Results tagged ‘ Javier Baez ’

3/2 Castro: “I don’t want to rush”

Last spring, Starlin Castro missed two weeks because of a sore left hamstring and amped up his offseason workouts to report in better shape. But on Sunday, in his second spring at-bat, the Cubs shortstop had to leave the game because of a mild right hamstring strain. Castro was hit by a pitch with one out in the first by the Royals’ Wade Davis, and then thrown out trying to steal second. He walked gingerly off the field and was lifted defensively.

“It’s not too bad like last year,” Castro said. “We don’t want to take a chance. It’s early right now. You take a couple days to get better.”

Last year, Castro was sidelined from Feb. 27-March 13. He said the pain on Sunday wasn’t as severe.

“Last year, I couldn’t walk [after he was hurt] and now I can walk normal,” Castro said. “[Athletic trainer PJ Mainville] stretched it out and I feel better.

“I don’t want to rush,” he said. “I want to take time to get better. I think I’ll be better.”

Castro was in better shape this spring. The Cubs sent strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss to the Dominican Republic for three weeks and Castro trained for another four weeks at a complex in Brandenton, Fla.

“A little bit [frustrating],” Castro said. “I feel so good when I work, I’m working hard every day. I feel 100 percent every day and this thing happens now.”

Javier Baez took over at shortstop on Sunday, and went 2-for-3. Castro and the Cubs’ top prospect chatted as Baez was leaving the facility.

“He’s not down,” Baez said of Castro. “He’s taking it easy. It’s only Spring Training. He wants to take care of his body.”

– Carrie Muskat

2/28 Bryant hits 1st spring homer

It was one inning in the Cubs’ second Cactus League game, but Friday’s seventh was a sign of things to come. Kris Bryant belted a two-run homer in his first spring at-bat, driving in Albert Almora, but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Cubs lost, 15-3, to the Angels.

All of the so-called core four of Almora, Bryant, Jorge Soler and Javier Baez had at-bats in the seventh. Arismendy Alcantara, another highly touted prospect, popped up to lead off the inning, and Almora, the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in 2012, then doubled. Soler struck out and Bryant followed with a lengthy at-bat that resulted in a 420-foot shot just left of the batter’s eye off a 3-2 slider from the Angels’ Jarrett Grube.

Brett Jackson, another Cubs’ No. 1 pick, walked and Baez, a first-round selection in 2011, lined out sharply to third base to end the inning.

“It was kind of cool — Albert got on with a double, Jorge, he had some good swings, and then I drove in Albert,” Bryant said. “Hopefully, we can do that a lot in the future.”

The Cubs certainly hope so.

Bryant’s career has been on the fast track since the third baseman was selected second overall in last June’s First-Year Player Draft. After he signed with the Cubs, Bryant played two games with the Rookie League team, then was bumped up to short-season Boise for 18 games. His debut there wasn’t nearly as impressive as he struck out in all five at-bats. But Bryant batted .354 and was promoted to high Class A Daytona, where he hit .333 in 16 games with five home runs and five doubles plus 14 RBIs.

And he wasn’t done. The winner of the Golden Spikes award as the top college baseball player of the year, Bryant, 22, played in the Arizona Fall League, and batted .364 with six more home runs, eight doubles and 17 RBIs.

He may be familiar with playing in the desert but this is his first big league camp, and the seventh inning was his first at-bat.

“I felt good up there, I was not nervous at all, and saw a lot of pitches, which was good,” Bryant said. “Home runs don’t mean anything if you don’t win the game, so that’s a little disappointing. For myself, it was a good performance.”

Cubs fans will see a lot of Bryant, Almora, Soler and Baez this spring as new manager Rick Renteria takes advantage of the Cactus League games to gauge the talent in the system. All are projected to open the season in the Minor Leagues. All have seemed very much at home in big league camp.

“It was a good first at-bat, and all the nerves are gone now,” Bryant said.

How can he be so calm?

“It’s just a game,” he said. “You’ve got to go out there and have fun and don’t put pressure on yourself and put a smile on your face and good things usually come from that.”

It worked at San Diego, where he led the nation with 31 home runs.

“I’ve just been blessed with power,” Bryant said. “I’m putting it to use. Hopefully, I can go out there tomorrow and give it all I’ve got and hopefully get a win.”

– Carrie Muskat

2/28 Cubs lineup

The Cubs will face Albert Pujols and the Angels on Friday in Tempe. Chris Rusin gets the start, his first this spring. James McDonald is scheduled to pitch, which will be big for the right-hander. He struggled with shoulder problems last season. Plus, fans can see top prospect Javy Baez. He’s scheduled to start at short. If you aren’t going to the game, you can listen on WGN Radio to Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer, or tune in to a webcast on Here’s the Cubs’ lineup:

Coghlan DH
Barney 2B
Sweeney CF
Schierholtz RF
Murphy 3B
Wells LF
Baez SS
Kottaras C
Valaika 1B

Rusin P

2/24 Support for Venezuela


Cubs players showed their support for family and friends in Venezuela dealing with the political unrest there. Pictured, left to right, are coach Franklin Font, infielder Arismendy Alcantara, infielder Luis Valbuena, outfielder Jorge Soler, infielder Javier Baez and pitcher Miguel Cabrera.

2/22 Baez power


Apparently, Javy Baez smashed two car windows on Friday during batting practice. Anyone attending Saturday’s workout could see that Baez was not hitting on Field 5. They hid him on another field, away from parked cars.

2/21 Here’s proof …


We weren’t kidding about Javy Baez’s home run breaking someone’s car window. Here’s proof, thanks to Grant Smith (@gbsmith84), who tweeted a photo of the damage:

“My car was one that got hit. Didn’t even get the ball either :(

Baez responded on Twitter: “Sorry about the window. i will pay it if i have to. But just don’t park there again. Lol”

2/21 Baez power

The Cubs need a few more signs at their new Spring Training facility to warn fans of Javier Baez’s power. Baez apparently broke a car window with one of his batting practice home runs on Friday.

“I saw it fly and I heard a sound,” said infielder Logan Watkins, who was in the outfield during batting practice.

What did he hear?

“Glass,” Watkins said.

“Somebody told me, but I didn’t know that,” Baez said about the freak accident. “It [stinks] for the person who parked there.”

This is the Cubs’ first spring at the new facility in west Mesa, and there are a few glitches.

“They’re parking too close to the field,” Baez said.

It’s not just Baez either. Jorge Soler launched a ball out of Field 5 as well. Maybe they need more screens? Or park further away?

“[At least] not until Group 1 is done hitting,” Watkins said. “Mike Olt hit a couple far out there, too.”

Home runs are not unusual for Baez, 21, who belted 37 combined at Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee last season. This is Baez’s second year in the big league spring camp and he said it’s a little easier.

“I’m trying to follow all the big guys,” the shortstop said.

Starlin Castro has been encouraging Baez, who is challenging for Castro’s job.

“[Castro] tells me all the time, ‘You’re going to get there whenever they think I’m ready,’” Baez said. “We’re just waiting now.”

Third baseman Christian Villanueva, who also was in the outfield during the batting practice session, gave Baez an animated description of what happened in Spanish.

“It was impressive,” Villanueva said. “I think he hit two cars. Some family was getting into the car and they heard the noise. They’re like, ‘Who’s hitting?’”

Baez didn’t know what happened.

“He doesn’t even care,” Watkins said. “He’s like, ‘Oh, cool.’ It’s not cool for whoever’s car it was.

“That’s a fun group to watch hit,” Watkins said. “They were making that field look real small. I get in trouble if I try to do that because that’s not really my game. Last round, I try to put one over [the fence] at least. He can do it every round if he wants. I don’t think anyone’s going to say that’s not your game because it obviously is.”

– Carrie Muskat

2/18 Riz on kids: Don’t rush them

Anthony Rizzo knows all about the great expectations people place on young players. He went through that when he was first called up to the Padres in 2011. Now, the Cubs’ top prospects, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and others, are dealing with the hype. Rizzo will try to ease some of the pressure.

“[The media] is going to crown them the next Babe Ruth,” Rizzo said Tuesday. “People did for me, and it’s part of the game, and they’re going to have to deal with that so-called pressure of coming up. They’re going to have fun, and we’ll make sure we have fun.”

Did all the attention affect the Cubs’ first baseman?

“I put my own expectations for what I do on myself,” Rizzo said. “What other people say doesn’t effect me.”

The Cubs have been adamant that Baez, the No. 1 prospect, will open at Triple-A Iowa. Fans are giddy at seeing the young potential impact players now.

“You say you don’t want to rush them too fast and make sure they can get the right amount of at-bats but they’ve shown they can handle every level,” Rizzo said. “The biggest learning process is up here [in the Major Leagues] — that’s where you learn the most. Adding that third deck of the stadium is huge. You can’t prepare for that.”

Rizzo’s transition wasn’t smooth. He was promoted to the Padres in June 2011, and batted .143 in his first 35 games, and was sent back to Triple-A. Called up again in September that year, he hit .133 in 14 games.

– Carrie Muskat

2/17 Baez arrives in Cubs camp

Javier Baez was one of the early birds in camp on Monday, arriving one day before position players have to report to Cubs camp. The first full squad workout will be Wednesday. The Cubs have said Baez will open at Triple-A Iowa and the shortstop isn’t putting a timetable on when he’s going to get to the big leagues.

“I’m still young and still learning how to play the game,” Baez said. “I’m going to take my time.”

Last spring, he batted .298 (14-for-47) and hit four home runs and drove in 10 runs. He also hit two more homers in an exhibition game against Japan. Alfonso Soriano and Dioner Navarro led the Cubs in spring homers with five each.

Could Baez make the big league team out of spring camp?

“I might make it, I might not,” he said. “I’m going to take it day by day and see what’s going on.”

The Cubs may test Baez at second and third this spring as well as have him play short. After a winter of workouts in Jacksonville, Fla., with his former high school team, he’s ready to get going.

“I’m just going to do my job and try to do what I did last year and [reduce] my errors,” he said.

– Carrie Muskat

1/24 Non-roster invitees

The Cubs have invited 24 non-roster players to Spring Training, including top prospects Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Albert Almora. Among the pitchers invited to Major League camp are right-handeders Marcus Hatley, Kyle Hendricks, Carlos Pimentel, Armando Rivero and Brian Schlitter, and lefties Tommy Hottovy, Eric Jokisch, Jonathan Sanchez and Tsuyoshi Wada. Hendricks was the Cubs’ Minor League pitcher of the year in 2013.

Five infielders were invited, including Baez, Bryant, Ryan Roberts, Chris Valaika and Jeudy Valdez. The list of outfielders invited includes Almora, Chris Coghlan, Aaron Cunningham, Ryan Kalish, Mitch Maier, Darnell McDonald and Casper Wells.

Kalish, 25, a left-handed hitting outfielder, was voted the Red Sox’s rookie of the year in 2010. He’s coming off surgery on his right shoulder in January 2013 which was followed by cervical fusion surgery last August, similar to a procedure Peyton Manning had. Jorge Soler, another top Cubs prospect, will be in the big league camp; he’s on the 40-man roster.

Catchers John Baker, Rafael Lopez and Eli Whiteside also are on the list of non-roster invitees. The Cubs said Minor League catchers Luis Flores and Will Remillard also will assist at times in big league camp.

Cubs pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 13 to the team’s new facility in Mesa, Ariz., and have their first workout the next day. Position players report on Feb. 18, with new manager Rick Renteria’s first full squad workout scheduled for Feb. 19.

– Carrie Muskat


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