Cubs

Cubs: Javier Baez getting back in the swing of things in Triple-A

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Cubs: Javier Baez getting back in the swing of things in Triple-A

Javier Baez is back on a baseball diamond.

The Cubs' enigmatic young hitter made his season debut Thursday night with Triple-A Iowa, going 1-for-6 with a double and three strikeouts.

"I guess it went well," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I didn't hear anything bad.

"I just heard everything was well, he's fine and we'll just keep moving it forward. But nothing spectacular one way or the other."

[RELATED - Why Cubs bet big on Jon Lester (and won’t look back)]

Baez spent some time away from the game with family after his sister, Noely, passed away at the age of 21 on April 8, the day before Iowa's first game.

Baez spent more than a week at the Cubs' complex in Arizona at the end of April, tuning up for game action.

"It's been pretty tough, but I learned to deal with stuff," Baez told the Des Moines Register. "No matter what happens, we've got to keep going."

Baez hit 76 home runs in the minor leagues before earning a promotion to in early August last season. He hit nine homers and drove in 20 runs in 52 games, but also struck out 95 times and batted just .169.

He then hit just .182 with one homer and one RBI in spring training before being sent back down to Triple-A.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans]

Baez was a consensus Top 10 prospect last season and is still just 22 years old. There is more than enough time for him to turn things around and join a Cubs lineup that now has Kris Bryant and Addison Russell packed into it.

And that's exactly what Baez's goal is, according to his interview with the Des Moines Register.

"I'm just trying to make it to the big leagues again as soon as I can," he said.

Cubs Talk Podcast: It's so good to be with the Director of Morale

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USA Today

Cubs Talk Podcast: It's so good to be with the Director of Morale

Luke Stuckmeyer and producer Eric Strobel welcome Frederic, aka the Cubs' unofficial Director of Morale. Fred takes us through the origins and growth of his fandom and social media persona (1:30), before discussing how Jake Arrieta's dominance announced the Cubs as contenders (7:30) and the now-ubiquitous hard hats in the bleachers (16:00). Finally, Fred and the guys talk about this year's team, including the lack of strikeout stuff on the pitching staff (22:30) and the unicorn that is Javy Baez (30:00). 

You can listen to the entire thing right here or in the embedded player below:

Cubs map out next steps for closer Craig Kimbrel

Cubs map out next steps for closer Craig Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel is one step closer to joining the Cubs bullpen.

According to Patrick Mooney of The Athletic, Kimbrel will join Triple-A Iowa and make his first appearance on Tuesday, against the Sacramento River Cats.

While the Cubs officially signed him on June 7, Kimbrel has yet to pitch in actual games. The 31-year-old has been in a condensed spring training program at the Cubs' Arizona complex, throwing live batting practice on both Thursday and Saturday.

The Cubs haven't revealed an official timeline for Kimbrel to join the 25-man roster, as they are basing things off of how he feels. The expectation is he will pitch in about five games with Iowa before joining the Cubs. However, both Theo Epstein and Kimbrel acknowledged how the goal isn't to rush the closer back into MLB action.

"We're not gonna rush it," Epstein said. "It's gonna be tempting to get him here as soon as possible, but we're trying to plan this thing the right way so that he could be in a position to succeed not just immediately but in October. That's gonna be our guiding principle as we go."

"We sat down and put a gameplan together — something to work off of," Kimbrel said. "But at the end of the day, it's based off how I recover, how I get ready. This isn't about getting back on the field as fast as I can. This is about being the best that I can be in October and down the stretch and doing what I came here to do for this team."

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