By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) If you are expecting Cubs shortstop phenom Javy Baez to be making his major league debut on Opening Day, you will be disappointed.
Manager Rick Renteria set the record straight on Monday, confirming that Baez will begin the baseball campaign at Triple-A Iowa.
“I am not going to tell you that we are going to change the way we think,” Renteria said. “He needs to be able to season and continue to improve. One thing at the major league level that you all have noticed is you need to be able to catch the ball and make plays. All those components make a well-rounded baseball player.”
Renteria and the front office have stood firm on the developmental concern of moving their young stars of the future to the big leagues in a prudent manner. A gifted hitter, Baez could most likely hold his own from an offensive perspective against major league pitching. Yet that is only a part of making the trip to Clark and Addison a successful one for Baez or any young superstar in the making.
Baez must also handle the defensive side of the game. The 21-year-old shortstop will accomplish that much at either shortstop or another position soon enough. The major issue will be one maturity and makeup, as he deals with attention and distractions that don’t exist in the minor leagues.
“He is a guy who has impressed everybody,” Renteria said. “We want him to continue to mature and be the player we hope he will become.”
Renteria went on to say that for most young players it takes three or four years in the majors to feel comfortable about their game and place on a team. Baez said Monday that he will be happy to continue his baseball journey anywhere the Cubs tell him to go. He also said he was fine playing other positions in spring training as part of his development program.
“I am still young and learning how to play the game,” Baez said. “It may take some time. I might make it (to majors out of spring), I might not, but I will take it day by day to see what is going on.”
The Cubs haven’t finalized a plan to use Baez at different positions, Renteria said.