The Cubs don’t know how all these pieces are going to fit together, which makes 2015 a big year for The Plan.
The Cubs moved Albert Almora to the seven-day disabled list on Tuesday, but didn’t sound concerned about the Double-A Tennessee centerfielder. The organization followed concussion protocol after Almora, a gifted defender, hit his head against the wall trying to make a catch during Monday’s game.
Almora – the first player drafted here by the Theo Epstein administration in 2012 and yet another Scott Boras client – felt like he was on the verge of a breakthrough year in spring training.
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Almora hit .345 (10-for-29) in the Cactus League and kept riding that momentum in the Southern League. He’s hitting .297 at Tennessee and showing some more patience, walking five times through 16 games at Tennessee. He walked twice during 36 games with the Double-A affiliate last year.
The Cubs viewed that discipline and understanding as part of the next stage of Almora’s natural development. He only turned 21 two weeks ago and has already shown signs of elite defensive skills.
Epstein essentially ruled out the idea of Javier Baez playing the outfield when a reporter floated that idea before Addison Russell’s Wrigley Field debut on Monday night.
“That’s thinking too far ahead,” Epstein said. “We got a lot of guys with a lot of versatility. Given that, there’s the ability for all our core guys to fit on the field together at the same time – if we get to a point where they’re all up here together.
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“But that’s thinking really far in the future right now. We just make sure guys continue to have the ability to play multiple positions. And in Javy’s case, get him back on the field.”
Baez took an extended leave of absence after his 21-year-old sister, Noely, died on April 8. At that point, Triple-A Iowa’s season hadn’t started yet. Baez recently reported to the team’s complex in Mesa, Ariz.
“Right now, the focus is just getting Javy back to game-ready,” Epstein said. “He’s working hard in Arizona. He’s getting a lot closer. He’s going to play a lot of second base and mix in some shortstop.”
In terms of a timetable for rejoining Iowa, Epstein said: “There’s a good chance that we’re talking days, not weeks.”