MILWAUKEE — Joe Maddon says the Cubs are in no rush to promote Javier Baez from Triple-A Iowa and potentially shake up their middle infield.
“The overall message I’m hearing is that our guys really want to make sure that he just gets it going,” Maddon said before Sunday’s 4-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
After Kris Bryant left that game as a precaution, feeling dizzy from a hard headfirst slide, the manager sounded optimistic about his All-Star third baseman: “We believe he’s fine.”
Maddon lobbied for Baez to make the Opening Day roster, believing that Javy Being Javy would bring enough to the table in terms of speed, defense and baseball IQ to overcome any readjustment period to big-league pitching.
But Baez needed an extended leave of absence after his sister’s death in April and fractured a finger while trying to steal a base in early June. The Cubs could still use his Gary Sheffield bat speed at some point during a pennant race, especially with All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro going through such a frustrating season.
“(It’s) the fact that he missed so much time,” Maddon said. “Right now, we’re OK. Obviously, if there’s an injury, then that could accelerate maybe, possibly. But for right now, though, I think our guys are pretty comfortable with the work that he’s getting and the progress he’s making — and not to really rush into it.”
The Cubs still have the Baez option because they didn’t make the deadline trade for pitching with the San Diego Padres (Tyson Ross) or Cleveland Indians (Carlos Carrasco) that probably would have included the 22-year-old infielder as a centerpiece.
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Baez homered twice last week during his first game back with Iowa. He’s gone 7-for-23 with eight RBI — and 10 strikeouts — through five Triple-A games since returning from the injury.
The Cubs hope Bryant’s concussion-like symptoms won’t linger. Either way, Baez appears to be playing his way into next-man-up discussions.
“The kid’s had a difficult year,” Maddon said. “But he’s going to make an impact, possibly in the near future, definitely in the future. I am happy that he’s here. He’s a really talented baseball player.
“He could be very impactful moving down the road. Things happen, too, injury-wise. Depth is always a good thing to have. And having a kid like that around can really make a difference.”