Cubs will push Javier Baez in first wave of September call-ups


Cubs will push Javier Baez in first wave of September call-ups

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.

[MORE: Scott Boras is thinking big with Jake Arrieta]

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.”

How the Cubs, John Baker, are navigating the mental challenges of 2020

How the Cubs, John Baker, are navigating the mental challenges of 2020

The Cubs have spent months fortifying Wrigley Field against the outside world.

It’s supposed to be somewhere they feel safe, from the coronavirus pandemic, racial injustice, record unemployment rates. Even just for a few hours.

But even Wrigley’s ivy-covered walls aren’t impenetrable.

“I just feel like every day there’s something new,” Cubs manager David Ross said on Monday. “And I hope … our world gets back to being better in so many ways: health, society, emotionally, trying to get back to loving one another as best we can, as human beings.”

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

The Cubs anticipated that mental health would be especially important this season and gave mental skills coach John Baker Tier 1 access. That way MLB’s health and safety protocols wouldn’t limit his in-person conversations with players and coaches.

“I think he’s handing it great,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “I think he deserves credit, and so do the players for being there for each other and be willing to talk about the challenges we all face and anxieties we all face.”

As people across the country have experienced, those anxieties are ever-mounting and ever-present.

At work, the Cubs are risking their health – and the health of those who live with them – to make a living and play a game they love. And hopefully provide fans with “levity and distraction,” as Hoyer put it.

Pregame interviews never conclude without a mention of the coronavirus. There’s always some sort of news between the Marlins’ and Cardinals’ outbreaks, commissioner Rob Manfred’s comments, and other teams violating protocols.

Then, at home their escapes are limited.

“This is a hard sport and it's a sport of failure,” Hoyer said, “and you want to be able to have some levity in your life that isn't this job of failure. And I think that not having that I think has created player health issues and we haven't had before.”

So, the Cubs built a little levity into their practice on Monday. The Cubs hadn't played a game in four days because their weekend series at St. Louis was postponed after the Cardinals had three more positive test. On Monday, Ross and his coaching staff put on a  “fun” competition, involving obstacles and target practice.

“I thought the way Rossy and the coaches and the players handled this break right now has been perfect,” Hoyer said. “I think they realize that in 2020 there's going to be strange things happen. You're going to have  breaks, and you're going to have doubleheaders, and there's nothing you can do about those things. You just have to roll with the punches, and you can't be upset by them.”

Next, they head to Cleveland to play a team that just had players violate protocol while in Chicago to play the White Sox.

Zach Plesac apologized for leaving the team hotel to go out, and he traveled back to Cleveland via car service to remain separated from the team in case of infection. But Mike Clevenger, who ESPN reported went out with Plesac, flew home with the team. He will be quarantined instead of starting against the Cubs on Tuesday.

Another anxiety to face.  

“How do I keep these guys in the moment?” Baker said. “They do it themselves. We have players that love playing baseball. I see it in the smiles on the faces now that they’re back on the field.”

That’s how they fortified Wrigley Field.


Cubs' Javier Báez, wife Irmarie are expecting a second child

Cubs' Javier Báez, wife Irmarie are expecting a second child

Cubs shortstop Javier Báez made a big announcement on Monday: he and his wife, Irmarie, are expecting a second child. 

Báez revealed the news in an adorable social media post with the help of his 2-year-old son, Adrian.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

Congrats to the Báez family!

RELATED: Javy Baez's 1-year-old son already has all the makings of a baseball superstar