Time limited, but Baez 'in the moment'

Maddon impressed by versatile youngster's all-around effort in win

Time limited, but Baez 'in the moment'

CHICAGO -- Javier Baez has played all over the field for the Cubs. Sometimes he starts, and sometimes he comes off the bench. Baez tries to be prepared for whatever his assignment is.

In Thursday's 7-2 win over the Dodgers, Baez filled in for second baseman Ben Zobrist, who got a day of rest after going hitless in seven straight at-bats following a 16-game hitting streak.

Baez delivered -- both offensively and defensively. The 23-year-old smacked a two-run home run and made a handful of impressive defensive plays as the Cubs took the last of four with the Dodgers at Wrigley Field, locking up a series win.

Baez talks about his big game

"I would love to play every day, but if it's not my time, it's somebody else's, and I'll be ready to come in the game [if needed]," Baez said.

Baez hit his third home run and first since May 8 on a changeup from rookie left-hander Julio Urias in the fourth inning.

Baez's diving catch

The next inning, Baez made a running, leaping grab of a Carl Crawford liner. Baez also made a nice play in the sixth, when he fielded Chase Utley's slow grounder and flipped the ball from his glove.

Baez's glove flip beats Utley

"He timed it perfectly, the dive, etcetera," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the fifth-inning highlight. "He has a knack for the spectacular. How about the flip on the slow roller? Not many guys can do that well and that accurately. He had himself a wonderful day."

Occasionally a late-game pinch-hitter or a defensive substitute, Baez has played second base, shortstop, third base, first base and left field this season. No matter his role, Baez has been prepared, Maddon said.

"This is just the beginning for him," Maddon said. "I like the fact that when he's not playing, he's ready to play. I go down and bump fists before the game, and he's always right here. He's in the moment. I can see in his face he's happy, he gets it and he knows his time is coming."

Baez also had an RBI single in the second inning. His three RBIs were a season high and his most since Sept. 4.

Thursday could mark a turnaround at the plate for Baez. He was hitting .143 in his previous 18 games after batting .321 in his first 19 games of the season.

"I'm making my adjustments and trying to get better every day," Baez said.

Sarah Trotto is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.