Cubs

Maddon: Javy Baez has to get used to not playing every day with Cubs

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Maddon: Javy Baez has to get used to not playing every day with Cubs

This isn't like last September.

The Cubs didn't call up Javier Baez just to pencil him in at second base and the two-hole in the order every single game.

As manager Joe Maddon has said on several occassions - the time for development is over. The Cubs are in a pennant race and they need wins at just about any cost.

[RELATED - Cubs letting Kyle Schwarber 'chill' for a few days with rib injury]

Of course, Maddon also understands it can be a difficult adjustment for a guy like Baez, who is used to playing every day. That empathy part of what makes Maddon so popular with his players.

"It's a little bit different for him, there's no question," Maddon said. "But this is a different moment for a lot of our guys. It's September; we have a really solid chance for playoffs. It's not about anybody right now - it's about the Cubs. That's what guys have to get used to right now.

"Moving forward, he's going to be an everyday player. There's no question. As we move this thing to next year and the year after, you'll see him play on a consistent basis.

"But for right now, he has to figure out how to be ready sporadically sometimes, even in-game."

Baez was in the lineup Friday, hitting sixth and playing second base. It was his second start in three games since being recalled from Triple-A Iowa when rosters expanded Tuesday.

Maddon said he just liked the matchup with Baez against Diamondbacks rookie Zack Godley and Baez rewarded his manager's faith with three hits - including a home run - and a bases-loaded walk.

The Cubs also got Tommy La Stella back from injury recently and Starlin Castro is coming off a month in which he appeared to turn a corner at the plate, hitting .296 with a .752 OPS in August.

That means Maddon has three solid options at second base for the season's final four weeks. He wants to play La Stella - a left-handed hitter - against right-handed starters and Castro against some lefties.

[MORE - Javier Baez returns to Cubs with something to prove]

But Maddon also raved about Baez's glovework in the infield and said he's just trying to play the best matchups on a daily basis with the lineup.

"Right now, I'm really into defense a lot," Maddon said. "I feel really good about his defense. You might see him at third base, too."

Baez played nine games at third base at Triple-A Iowa this season and Maddon admitted his versatility can mean pushing Kris Bryant to the outfield - especially with Kyle Schwarber out injured - and allowing La Stella and Castro more time at second base.

Baez also said Tuesday he brought his outfield glove to Chicago  - "just in case" - but it doesn't appear as if the Cubs have any intention of playing him there this season.

Maddon didn't declare his Saturday lineup yet, but after Friday's game, he conceded to the fact that both Baez and Castro would probably be in against Arizona lefty Robbie Ray for the second game of the series, which could mean Baez at third base.

Sports Talk Live podcast: Are the Cubs hitting their stride?

Sports Talk Live podcast: Are the Cubs hitting their stride?

On this week's Sports Talk Live podcast, Hub Arkush and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel.  The Cubs finally get an off day after 30 straight days of baseball.  Despite a blowout loss in Arizona, are they hitting their stride at the right time?  The guys look ahead to Bears/Cardinals and talk about the state of Matt Nagy’s offense. Plus Chuck Garfien drops by to discuss Hawk Harrelson’s final broadcast, Jose Quintana and car analogies. You can listen to the entire thing right here, or in the embeded player below: 

Cubs Talk Podcast: Answering your burning Cubs questions

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Answering your burning Cubs questions

Is Joe Maddon the NL Manager of the Year? Is Javy Báez the NL MVP? Who makes the postseason roster out of David Bote, Tommy La Stella, Ian Happ and Terrance Gore? Will Dillon Maples carve out a role in the October bullpen?

Our Cubs crew (David Kaplan, Tony Andracki and Jeff Nelson) address these topics and more in the latest Cubs Talk Podcast with only 10 days remaining in the regular season.

Listen to the full podcast episode here or via the embedded player below: