Versatile infielder starts at shortstop to give Russell day off
By Cody Stavenhagen
CHICAGO -- When Cubs infielder Javier Baez was activated from the disabled list Friday, manager Joe Maddon indicated he wanted Baez to play wherever, whenever and noted the importance of getting him at-bats.
Baez has hit the ground running. He started Saturday's 6-2 win against the Rockies at second base and went 2-for-4 with an infield hit, a double and a run.
Baez also made a diving stop playing in a shift behind second base. But most noticeable was the energy Baez brought to the field, even making an errant throw early in the game on a ball he stopped deep up the middle in effort to make a spectacular play (no runners advanced).
"Javy was happy to be home, back here," Maddon said. "A couple great plays at second base. His baserunning is first class."
Sunday, Baez started at shortstop, mainly to give Addison Russell a day off. Maddon has said he wants to get Baez two to three starts per week, which will help Baez's development and also allow built-in rest for Ben Zobrist, Russell and possibly others.
"Having that kind of high-end replacement or a guy who can go out there and do it, it's pretty comfortable," Maddon said.
Both before and after Saturday's game, Maddon noted the importance of getting Baez time on the field as the Cubs look to groom him as a member of their young infield for years to come.
"He definitely belongs here," Maddon said. "He knows he belongs here. We just have to get him out there with the appropriate number of reps so he maintains all his skills."
Bryant gets rookie award
Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of Kris Bryant's Major League debut, and though there has yet to be a clubhouse celebration, Bryant did receive a fitting reward.
In a pregame ceremony, Bryant received the Players Choice Award as the 2015 NL Outstanding Rookie. Selected in a secret ballot of all National League players, Bryant received his Players Choice Award from teammate Jake Arrieta.
Last season, Bryant hit 26 home runs and drove in 99 runs to set rookie records for the Cubs.
His play also helped the Cubs reach the postseason and earned Bryant a spot on the NL All-Star team. In recognition, the Major League Baseball Players Trust will provide a charitable contribution of $20,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project, Bryant's personal selection.
Cody Stavenhagen is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.