As Cubs evaluate Russell, Baez steps in

Shortstop undergoes MRI on hamstring strain; replacement homers in first at-bat

As Cubs evaluate Russell, Baez steps in

CHICAGO -- Cubs shortstop Addison Russell went for an MRI on his left hamstring on Tuesday, and his status for the rest of the postseason is still to be determined. Javier Baez started at shortstop in the Cubs' 6-4 win over the Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Division Series, which clinched a berth in the NL Championship Series.

"I have all the confidence in the world in him," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Baez. "He's an outstanding defender, a well above average defender at third, short or second. I really anticipate a good game out of him on defense today."

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Baez promptly rewarded his manager's faith, belting a three-run home run in his first at-bat in the second inning to give the Cubs a 4-2 lead.

Baez's three-run homer

"He has that kind of power to all fields, you saw it to the right side right there," Maddon said during the TBS broadcast after the homer. "He's an outstanding infielder. He had a little bit of a tough night last night, but this kid's going to be a well above average infielder with that kind of power."

The Cubs have had an overload of shortstops in the system with Russell, Baez and Starlin Castro, who was moved to second base in August.

Game Date Results
Gm 1 Oct. 9 STL 4, CHC 0
Gm 2 Oct. 10 CHC 6, STL 3
Gm 3 Oct. 12 CHC 8, STL 6
Gm 4 Oct. 13 CHC 6, STL 4

"I don't think you can have too many shortstops," Maddon said. "It's like, you can't have too many pitchers."

If the Cubs were to take Russell off the NLDS roster because of an injury, he would not be available for the next round of postseason play.

Extra bases

• After winning 97 games during the regular season, and four in the postseason, the Cubs now have won 100-plus games for the first time since 1945, when the team finished 98-56 in the regular season, then won three games in the World Series.

"I was hoping for 90 [wins] when I was popping off at the Cubby Bear," Maddon said of his introductory news conference last November. "I'll take plus 10, and now you're looking for more than that. It's pretty impressive what our guys have done."

• Prior to Monday's game, the 100 Cubs scouts and player development staff paraded on the outfield warning track, a tribute that was organized by president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. Included in the group was Jose Estevez, an area scout for the Cubs for 23 years in the Dominican Republic who discovered Castro. Estevez had never been to Wrigley Field until Monday.

Epstein said thank you to the group during a dinner Sunday, and he made sure to thank the staff's wives, who also were invited. The Cubs had staffers from Venezuela, Mexico, Panama and the Dominican present.

"It's all part of the camaraderie," said Louis Eljaua, special assistant to the general manager and director of international scouting, who took part in the parade.

Most of the group could only stay for Game 3 because instructional league in the Dominican Republic begins next week, and several had to travel for the start of the Arizona Fall League, which starts Tuesday.

Jason Motte threw a bullpen session on Tuesday and continues to make progress. The reliever has been sidelined since late August with a right shoulder strain. He threw his second simulated game on Sunday. Motte might be available for the NL Championship Series.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.