Baez doesn't expect to be sidelined long

Cubs' infielder will remain in Arizona as camp breaks

Baez doesn't expect to be sidelined long

MESA, Ariz. -- Infielder Javier Baez, who will begin the season on the disabled list with a sprained left thumb, was disappointed that he didn't make the Cubs' Opening Day roster, but expects to be sidelined for a short time.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said they're hoping Baez changes how he slides, and switches to feet-first to avoid re-injuring his hand.

Baez has been testing his thumb taking batting practice for two days, and said it's passed all the tests so far. He injured the thumb sliding head first into a base.

"I haven't played in a few days, so they want me to see live pitching," said Baez, who hasn't played in a game since March 20. "I want to see live pitching, too."

The Cubs have talked to Baez about switching his sliding style but Maddon said in the heat of the moment, instincts take over.

Baez will stay in Arizona and continue his rehab with the Minor League teams.

"Whenever they have games here. I'll be taking [batting practice], and taking ground balls," he said. "I feel good."

• Outfielder Dexter Fowler, sidelined since he hit a home run in the first inning on Sunday because of mild tightness in his left side, is fine and will play either Friday or Sunday in the Cubs' final exhibition games. One thing is certain: Fowler will be the leadoff man and Jason Heyward will bat second.

Fowler's solo shot

Maddon said he's still tinkering with his lineup combinations but has settled on that one-two punch.

"I want [Heyward] in his comfort zone," Maddon said. "The debate goes from three through nine. I think one-two is pretty solid."

Ben Zobrist could bat third, then Anthony Rizzo, followed by Kris Bryant, or it could be Bryant-Rizzo-Zobrist. All Maddon would promise was that "it's going to be a Rizzo sandwich."

• Zobrist has known Maddon a long time, having been with the manager in Tampa Bay. But this spring, Zobrist said the craziness level in Maddon's camp reached unprecedented levels.

"Joe always had a few things that he did, but here it was every day," Zobrist said. "Literally every day there was something that I'd never seen happen before stretch in big league Spring Training. It was definitely a circus at times but it was fun. That's exactly the kind of thing that brings guys together and makes us have fun together and know each other more."

Bear cubs meet the Cubs

The Cubs have had baby bear cubs in camp, a mime, a D.J., and a motivational speaker. And one never knows what outfit strength coach Tim Buss will be wearing.

• Munenori Kawasaki said he did not realize he flipped his bat after hitting a home run on Tuesday until he saw the video. And he promises he won't do it again.

"I respect the pitcher," Kawasaki said.

Kawasaki hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning against the Athletics, and was then given the silent treatment by his teammates in the dugout.

Kawasaki gets silent treatment

"That's American style," Kawasaki said of his teammates' reaction.

Even though he did not make the Cubs' Opening Day roster, the versatile infielder is prepared to go to Triple-A Iowa and be ready when needed.

"I like baseball. I don't care [if it's the Minor Leagues]," he said. "I love baseball. I'm a special baseball player."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.