Cubs shortstop Javier Báez is out of the starting lineup vs. the Brewers on Friday as manager David Ross gives him a mental breather.
Báez is hitting .153 (9-for-59) with 22 strikeouts over his last 15 games.
“I think he’s just frustrated, man,” Ross said. “I’ve pushed these guys and it’s been clear [we’re] going to lean on those superstars.
“But it’s really tough sometimes when you come to work every day and you put in the work, and you are focused and you’re trying your hardest, and you’re just not getting results. That’s really tough.”
Báez has struggled at the plate this season, holding his highest strikeout rate (33.5 percent) since his 2014 rookie season. He had one of his best games of the season on Monday, a three-hit effort against the Cardinals. But he’s 1-for-12 since then with five strikeouts.
Ross said he thought back to his own career and struggles, and how they can lead to a player spiraling mentally. He talked to Báez after Thursday’s game and the shortstop was fine with taking a day off.
“I trust him, we’re still going to need him, still going to lean on him,” Ross said. “I just wanted to give him a breather.”
Ross said second baseman Jason Kipnis, who last played Tuesday against Cincinnati, is “dealing with a little something.” Friday is the third straight game Kipnis isn't in the lineup against a right-handed starting pitcher.
Ross said he wants to make sure Kipnis is healthy and fresh. There are less than three weeks left in the season.
“He’s going to be a big part of this group,” Ross said. “He’ll be in there soon.”