Báez' insane baserunning magic brings home a run


Just when you think you’ve seen all of El Mago’s tricks, he finds a new way to surprise you.

“Definitely haven't seen anything like that,” Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks said of Javy Báez. “Don't think you'll ever see it again.”

“That” would Báez’ latest magic trick, a jaw-dropping baserunning play in the third inning of Thursday’s win over the Pirates in which he turned a routine ground ball into two bases and a run.

Báez hit a sharp two-out grounder to Pittsburgh third baseman Erik Gonzalez, whose throw to first baseman Will Craig sailed up the first baseline. The throw was in plenty of time, so much that Báez said he thought of maneuvering out of the baseline.

Instead, he halted in his tracks, running back towards home plate as Craig gave chase.

“Let’s say I improvise,” Báez said. “I’m pretty good at tagging and not letting people tag me.”

Báez kept Craig close, offering Willson Contreras, who had just stolen second base, enough time to round the bases. The improvisation worked — the Cubs catcher slid in ahead of Craig’s throw to catcher Michael Perez.

Báez acknowledged he didn’t plan the play, adding he remembered he still had to run to first base only after gesturing Contreras was safe. 

"I was pretty tired," he said with a smile.

Pirates catcher Michael Perez’ throw to first deflected off the glove of Kevin Newman — darting over to cover the bag — allowing Báez to reach second. He later scored on an Ian Happ single as the Cubs won 5-3.


“Only Javy disappears on the base paths more than any person I've seen,” manager David Ross said. “It really is a magic act. He just creates havoc, man.”

The Cubs broke into celebration at the unbelievable moment, with Báez saying they celebrated as if he had hit a double after he got back to the dugout.

“Guys were going crazy in the dugout, but I guess we should come to expect it by now,” Hendricks said.

"The things you see him do on a daily basis, it's unbelievable, the type of player he is," added Hendricks, Thursday's winning pitcher, of Báez. "It's a treat to be on the same team as him and to be able to watch him day in and day out and things he does."

All Craig had to do was step on first base to end the inning, rather than chase after Báez. But that’s the type of pressure and uncomfortable position the Cubs shortstop puts opponents in while running the bases.

“He plays like the kid in Little League that’s better than everybody else, just keeps running and nobody can tag him. At times, something bad happens for the opponent,” Ross said. 

“Stuff that seems very cut and dry from the other side, I’m sure, and he just makes crazy things happen. He runs in moments and guys just forget how to play baseball sometimes. That's what he creates, that havoc.”

This isn’t the first time Báez has pulled off an unthinkable on the diamond, and it won’t be the last. 

“I’ve never seen anything like that my life, as many games as I've been able to be a part of,” Ross said. “Just Javy, right? El Mago.”

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