SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Javier Baez is being groomed for a "super-utility" role with this year's Cubs. He's already played center field, first base and shortstop this spring. But more than that, Joe Maddon wants Baez to have a better approach at the plate:
"If you're playing every day, you can make more at-bats, make your adjustments," Maddon said. "But if you're not playing as consistently, self-awareness is a big part of being able to do well in that role." Thus it behooves Baez to become more disciplined than in his first at-bat against Kershaw. "I was just ready for one pitch," Baez recalled. "And then (Kershaw) threw me a fastball in, and then a big curveball, change-up, and a cutter, and I said, 'Oh, he's nasty.'" Maddon said the learning process for young players is often gradual. "When you're a young player, you can hear the same message daily for 162 days, and maybe it doesn't sink in," Maddon said. "You come back the next year and maybe on the 37th day, you say, 'Oh, that's what they meant.'"
I recall watching Baez's approach against Clayton Kershaw the other day, or maybe "approach" isn't the right word. As Baez said, Kershaw worked him like Kershaw does, and Baez started to realize he can't just sit on "one pitch." It's a process, as Maddon said, and hopefully Baez continues to learn. He's got the raw talent, he just needs to learn how to harness it. He's been around the organization so long it's sometimes hard to remember that he's only 23.
I'm not going to today's game. First, I need a break after seven straight, and second, I'm heading to the Bruce Springsteen concert in downtown Phoenix tonight. Hoping I run into Joe Maddon there. I'll be back at the ballpark Friday when the Cubs face the Reds at Sloan Park.
Baez CF, Schwarber LF, Bryant 3B, Soler RF, Ross C, Candelario DH, Davis 1B, Alcantara 2B, Negron SS
Aoki CF, Sardinas SS, Cano 2B, Romero LF, Lind 1B, Sanchez DH, S. Smith RF, Lucas 3B, Clevenger C, Miley P.
Jon Lester makes his first spring start. Other Cubs scheduled to throw today: Hector Rondon, Ryan Williams, Carl Edwards Jr., Andury Acevedo, Brandon Gomes and Felix Pena.
Wade Miley goes for the Mariners. Others on Seattle's list: Joaquin Benoit, Casey Coleman (yep, still around!), Justin De Fratus, Paul Fry and Mayckol Guaipe.
Today's game is on cubs.com with Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie. If you have a MLB.tv subscription it is available (no blackouts) via the Mariners broadcast team on Root Sports Seattle.
Please visit our SB Nation Mariners site Lookout Landing. If you do go there to interact with Mariners fans, please be respectful, abide by their individual site rules and serve as a good representation of Cub fans in general and BCB in particular.
Please note that during spring training, Gameday doesn't usually go pitch-by-pitch as it does during the regular season -- usually, it will update after each at-bat.
For spring-training games, we'll have a first-pitch thread at five minutes to game time and one overflow thread, 90 minutes after game time (because I know how you all like overflow threads!). For today, that will be 2 p.m. CT and 3:30 p.m. CT.
These threads will not post individually onto the front page; instead, you can find links to them in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page. There will also be a StoryStream on the front page with all the game thread links, as well as the recap after the game is over. The pitcher boxes and regular-season stats will return on Opening Day.
Discuss amongst yourselves.