The Javier Baez supporters have been lobbying from the start for him to open the season on the Cubs opening day roster. Will the hamstring injury Starlin Castro suffered alter any plans for Baez?
The fact is the Cubs have a pretty deliberate plan in place, and Castro’s hamstring tweak won’t change it. And while the two would on the outside seem to be in “competition” at the shortstop position, the truth is Castro would welcome Baez.
“To help the team win, if you’re there and I’m there, whatever. I don’t care,” Castro said. “Some people don’t have a good relationship because they’re at the same position. But me and him, no. We’re good friends. We talk a lot.”
The injury to Castro may allow an extra start or two for Baez at shortstop. But the Cubs also plan to play him at second and third this spring. Depending on the results, they will likely play a deciding role where Baez lands if and when he gets the call. Several of the Cubs that have been highlighted this off-season are off to good starts early on as well. Darwin Barney (.375. 1 HR, 2 RBI) and Anthony Rizzo (.429, 2 2B, 1 RBI) have started strong. Castro seemed to be regaining his swing as he was going to the opposite field and hitting line drives before his injury. Mike Olt, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Albert Almora have all impressed early, even though it’s a small sample.
The Cubs have been “talent challenged” over the past few seasons. The fact that many of the talented young prospects in the ranks play positions already established on the major league roster is irrelevant. When they’re ready, the Chicago Cubs front office isn’t going to wait. Talent will find its way to Wrigley. The Cubs have been counting on it, while the fans have desperately needed it.