By now we’ve heard so much about Javier Baez there seems precious little more to tell. But the Chicago Cubs #1 or #2 prospect (depending on who you ask) added another page to his mythology yesterday. A split squad of Cubs played Team Japan before they head to San Francisco for the WBC final four. I’ll let Carrie Muskat take it away from here:
Baez hit a pair of home runs, including a walkoff two-run shot in the ninth, to power the Cubs to a 7-5 victory over Team Japan in an exhibition game Friday. With the game tied at 5, Christian Villanueva doubled to lead off the ninth against Takeru Imamura. Baez then launched the first pitch he saw over the left field fence for the winner.
“[The first homer,] I was just sitting on a fastball, and he threw me two, and I missed them, and then he threw me a fastball inside,” Baez said. “I was patient at the plate. [In the ninth] with a man on second, I knew he’d throw a slider or a curveball, and he threw me a slider and I hit it hard and hit it over the fence.”
It’s getting harder to remember that he’s still probably two years away from Chicago. He’ll most likely be starting in High-A Daytona. Baez’s top prospect compatriot, Albert Almora, didn’t have as good a day as Javier. He broke his hamate bone Thursday and had surgery Friday. Dale Sveum isn’t worried.
“It’s not a career problem or anything like that,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “It’s more like a pain-in-the-butt-type thing. It’s happened to a lot of hitters, that little bone that doesn’t mean anything that you don’t even need … Will end up costing him four to six to eight weeks before he gets into a game. The good part about it is it’s one of those things you just take out (the bone) and be done with it. If you just leave it in and have surgery then possibly it’s a whole season. It’s a nice injury that you can take it out and be done with it.”
It’s a nice injury!
Ian Stewart got to hit in a minor league game Thursday, and he’s feeling great!
“I still think I will be [that guy], and I think I will be this year,” Stewart said. “It’s just been such a relief for me knowing that the surgery that I got worked and I have no lingering issues in my wrist and my bat speed feels back.
“The toughest part for me last year was I could hit [batting practice] all day because they were throwing it down the middle and you could control everything,” he said. “Once the game came, and pitches were moving and breaking, and I just couldn’t adjust because the wrist was holding me back. Now there’s none of that.
“My confidence is really sky high right now as far as my hitting and everything goes. I was really surprised at how I was able to feel in the box [Thursday] and tracking pitches and some swings I put on the baseball.”
Anyone else have Ian as the early front runner for Comeback Player of the Year?