The Cubs are planning to activate Javier Baez for Friday’s game against the Colorado Rockies, adding an elite defender to their roster and seeing how he might tap into all that offensive potential at Wrigley Field.
A left thumb injury prevented Baez from making the Opening Day roster, the cost of diving headfirst into first base during a spring-training game, which limited him to only 30 at-bats in the Cactus League.
Baez played left field, third base, second base and shortstop during his four-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa this week, showing the versatility that makes Cubs manager Joe Maddon believe he can be a super-utility guy in the big leagues.
Maybe Jorge Soler steps up and takes the job in left field, but the Cubs are still looking at internal options after Kyle Schwarber tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee last week, adding to the sense of urgency for Baez, who also becomes an insurance policy against an injury to shortstop Addison Russell.
To make room for Baez, the corresponding roster move is expected to be reserve infielder Munenori Kawasaki heading back to Iowa.
Baez went 4-for-15 with a home run and four strikeouts in Des Moines. Stay tuned to see how he makes adjustments in The Show, where he’s generated 10 homers, 12 doubles and 119 strikeouts through 80 career games.
But there’s still so much raw talent, attitude and baseball IQ involved with a player who’s only 23 years old and had been the ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft.