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The defensive education of Cubs prospect Javy Baez
MESA, Ariz. – Top-prospect Javy Baez has been taking infield at second and third base during early practices this spring but hasn’t played anywhere in a game except shortstop – where he is again in Wednesday night’s starting lineup against Seattle.
But manager Rick Renteria promises that will change. Baez is scheduled to open the season as the starting shortstop at Class AAA Iowa, but assuming another season of good health for Starlin Castro, that position won’t be much of an option if Baez gets his big-league debut this year – as many expect.
The Cubs want to see him at the other infield spots at least a few times this spring.
“We’re going to make sure when we do put him there, we’re very comfortable and confident that he can handle that side of the diamond, and I think he’s pretty close,” Renteria said. “It’s going to happen.”
A pair of split-squad days over the weekend could provide enough need across the diamond to create natural opportunity. Otherwise, the next best opportunity might come sometime next week after Castro’s anticipated return from a hamstring injury.
Baez, the fourth-ranked prospect in the game, according to Baseball America, is 6-for-18 this spring with two homers, two doubles and a 1.111 OPS. He’s still looking for his first walk and has struck out three times.