LOS ANGELES – The Cubs are planning to make Javier Baez part of their first wave of September call-ups.
“There’s a lot of things he can do to help you win right now,” manager Joe Maddon said Saturday at Dodger Stadium.
Maddon had been saying that back in spring training, when he looked at the situation with fresh eyes and wanted Baez on the Opening Day roster for his speed, defense and instincts, looking beyond the extreme swing-and-miss issues at the plate.
It’s been a difficult year for Baez, both personally and professionally. But when the rosters expand on Tuesday, Baez should be at Wrigley Field, with a chance to make a better-late-than-never impact on what could be a special season for the Cubs.
At that point, the Cubs are also expected to add super-utility guy Emilio Bonifacio and pinch-runner Quintin Berry from Triple-A Iowa. Carl Edwards Jr. could eventually join the Cubs bullpen as part of a later wave of promotions. Double-A Tennessee pitcher Pierce Johnson is not on the organization’s radar for a September call-up.
Baez has been adding to his versatility and getting exposure to the outfield with Iowa. A natural shortstop, Baez could also become an option for Maddon at second or third base.
Baez took an extended leave of absence after the death of his sister in April and fractured a finger while trying to steal a base in early June. Overall, he’s hitting .316 with 13 homers, 60 RBI and a .911 OPS through 67 games at Iowa.
The Cubs will find out if that translates against big-league pitching. Baez blasted nine homers and struck out 95 times during his 52-game audition last year.
“He’s playing well,” Maddon said. “(They’re) moving him all over the place, so he gets used to that. Good at-bats, more consistent at-bats in regards to being under control, that kind of stuff. So he’s been doing well.”