“Try not to suck.”
While this is probably the motto for more than one professional athlete, this was actually told to Javier Baez upon his return to the big leagues last fall by Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, a story which garnered plenty of laughter at the “Rock Star Rookie” panel at this past weekend’s Cubs Convention. The advice seemed to work as Baez was a key contributor down the stretch and played a pivotal role in the playoffs after starting shortstop Addison Russell went down with an injury. As the Cubs prepare to kick off spring training in just over a month, Baez wants to keep contributing on an everyday basis, even if that means moving to center field. Having never played outside of the infield his entire career, the team had him play the position in winter ball and the plan is to continue that experiment this spring…assuming he’s still a Cub, of course, as his name is constantly involved in trade rumors.
There’s nothing he can do stop the trade talk, but what he can do is continue to work, and if that tweet is any indication, he’s confident that he’s doing well.
“I feel really good, ” Baez said. “I’m looking forward to start playing center field and we’ll see how it goes in spring training.
Obviously, I’m here to play. I’m ready to play. I want to play every day.
It doesn’t matter what position, I just want to be in the lineup.”
Joe Maddon certainly has confidence in the youngster as well.
“I definitely think he can [play it at the big league level], ” Maddon said. “He’s one of the best on-field defenders I’ve seen, period. The way he plays the infield, he’s never in trouble. He’s very calm, he’s got this really high baseball acumen – he sees things in advance. I could go on and on. And he’s only 23 years of age and he’s got all this goin’ on.”
We’ll all be waiting patiently to see what the future holds for Javier Baez, and I’m sure we’re all hoping that he just doesn’t suck.