Chicago Cubs utility man Javier Baez will be joining Team Puerto Rico in a few days’ time, ready to represent his nation at the World Baseball Classic.
Coming off a World Series championship, it might not surprise anyone if the Chicago Cubs wanted their players focused on defending their title, instead of taking part in the World Baseball Classic.
That’s not the case, however, for Joe Maddon and the Cubs’ front office. Chicago has a pair of notable players taking part in the WBC in Javier Baez and Hector Rondon.
The former is still battling for a role with the big league team. That’s not to say he’s in danger of not making the big league club. Rather, where he’ll take the field on any given day is very much up in the air.
More from Cubbies Crib
- Cubs should keep close eye on non-tender candidate Cody Bellinger
- Cubs starting pitching has been thriving on the North Side
- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs are giving pitcher Javier Assad a deserved shot
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
"“I want to have my position,” Baez told the Chicago Tribune. “If I rotate, it won’t matter. I’m used to it. But I want to play second base. I’ve been doing great.”"
Last season, Baez appeared in games at every infield position, as well as left field. Primarily, he played second base while Ben Zobrist shifted to left field in place of the injured Kyle Schwarber. Now that the slugger has returned, how Baez gets into the lineup is something Maddon will have to figure out each day.
As he demonstrated in the postseason, keeping his glove out of the starting lineup isn’t an option. He was outstanding defensively, even splitting co-NLCS MVP honors with ace Jon Lester.
For Maddon’s part, the World Baseball Classic isn’t an issue for Baez, Rondon or any other player.
"I have no problem with it whatsoever. He’s a big boy,” Maddon said. “He gets it. He knows what’s we’re doing here. … We are really simple in our methods. Everybody’s always concerned about your player’s health once they leave. But that’s everybody’s concern.”"
Baez has been a relatively healthy member of the Chicago Cubs at the big league level. Rondon battled some ups and downs last year, so fans will undoubtedly have a closer eye on him following the WBC.
On Team Puerto Rico, Baez will play alongside his World Series rival, Cleveland Indians’ shortstop Francisco Lindor. The two grew up together and will put their 2016 postseason rivalry aside as they look to bring hardware home for their country.