Chicago Cubs: Javier Baez will start in center field against the Brewers
We’ve been waiting for this day ever since the New York Mets prevented the Chicago Cubs from reaching the World Series. It’s time for our Lovable Losers to get back to work as they’ll begin Cactus League play on the road against the Milwaukee Brewers later on this afternoon.
Honestly, it felt as if time refused to move any further once the final out of the National League Championship Series was recorded. In fact, recently re-signed center fielder Dexter Fowler was called out on strikes to end Chicago’s postseason run.
Now that it’s gameday, people are going to be wondering what or who will be in Joe Maddon‘s lineup against their N.L. Central rival. Not only will 23-year-old Javier Baez be starting in center field and batting sixth for the Cubs, Kyle Schwarber will be leading off and playing left field according to Cubs.com.
Instead of Addison Russell and a few other starters taking the field first, a handful of Opening Night bench-hopefuls will be given the opportunity to make a strong impression.
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The rest of the lineup goes as follows: Kris Bryant playing third base and batting second, Anthony Rizzo at first and batting third, Jorge Soler in right field, Miguel Montero behind the dish, Tommy La Stella at second, Dan Vogelbach as the designated hitter and Munenori Kawasaki starts at short.
Is it me or is that one interesting lineup to begin the pre-season? Before the Cubs were eliminated by the Mets, Baez made appearances at either second or shortstop in his young career.
But changes were made over the offseason which resulted in Javier receiving playing time in the outfield over in Puerto Rico during winter baseball. It wasn’t a ton of experience as he only picked up four starts.
"“We were watching him on the main field the other day during batting practice, and he looks like he’s done it forever. He did it in winter ball and we heard nothing but wonderful things bout his work in winter ball. If he makes a couple, three great players, don’t be surprised. He’s a really good athlete and good baseball player.” – Maddon via Cubs.com"
With the Cubs being overcrowded in all three positions, what could this possibly mean for Javier’s future in Chicago?
We’re all aware that prospect Albert Almora is closing in on his big league debut within the next year or two years to come, so where would be fit in this picture? If it comes down to it, the chances of either Baez or Soler being traded (I’m sorry for bringing this up, again) will increase over time.
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Unless the plan is to mold Baez into a potential left fielder and move Kyle Schwarber behind the plate depending on Montero’s status with the organization.
Either way, the young slugger still has some work to do at both positions. Defensively, that is. He’s already shattered someone’s windshield during batting practice well before the rest of the team showed up in Mesa.