Baez nursing sore thumb after headfirst slide

Baez nursing sore thumb after headfirst slide

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs' Javier Baez was given Thursday off to nurse a swollen left thumb injured sliding head first into a base on Wednesday. Baez broke a finger last season because of a head-first slide and missed one month.

Maybe he should consider going feet first?

"In the heat of the moment, you do that," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of head-first slides. "You're always better to run through the bag at first base. ... You encourage foot-first sliding because it bothers the defender."

Baez, though, has always led with his hands.

"I think I have problems diving head first," Baez admitted. "I put all my weight on my hands. I'm fine."

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Ben Zobrist was sidelined Thursday with an ingrown toenail. He is day to day, or step by step.

"They can be very, very nasty," Maddon said. "He actually played [Wednesday] on it and it was bothering him."

Maddon is still considering where he's going to insert Zobrist in the lineup. He doesn't want to stack too many players ahead of Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, which could limit how many at-bats those two get.

"As we get deeper into camp here, that last week or 10 days, we'll try to set up different lineups and see what it looks like," Maddon said.

Hector Rondon has given up eight earned runs on 10 hits in his last 1 2/3 innings over two outings, which isn't exactly what a team wants its closer to do. Maddon isn't concerned.

"Honestly, and I'm not going to make any excuse for him, but the ninth inning in Surprise and the ninth inning at HoHoKam [Stadium in Cactus League games] -- this guy is used to an adrenaline rush," Maddon said. "From where I'm standing, I think the stuff looks really good. He's probably not commanding it where he wants and maybe too much middle plate.

"As long as he tells me he's healthy, and he is, and he feels good about himself, that's all I'm concerned about," Maddon said. "I really mean that. I also think he started a little later than the hitters started this camp. I honestly have zero concern. I know he's healthy."

Adam Warren and Trevor Cahill each threw three innings in a "B" game against the Rockies early Thursday. Warren struck out six, and Cahill fanned five. Both will likely end up in the Cubs bullpen, although Warren said he's only been told that he's being built up as a starter.

"I feel I'm a smart person and I know how things look right now," Warren said. "I'm just trying to get ready for the season and they'll tell me where I need to be. Getting in the mindset of just getting ready for the season is the biggest thing for me and not worrying about my role or what position I'm in."

As of now, the Cubs rotation appears set with Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks.

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.