By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) The anticipation is palpable for Cubs fans every time super-hyped second baseman Javier Baez comes to the plate. And already, the 21-year-old Baez is beginning to show more plate discipline through just six major league games.
Critics rightfully pointed out the 10 strikeouts in Baez’s first 23 at-bats. On Sunday, a more selective approach was shown. In his first thee at bats, Baez produced two base hits and an RBI.
Baez now has a four-game hitting streak and seven hits in his last 19 at-bats (.368) after going 2-for-6 on Sunday. The big stage doesn’t appear to intimidate the confident first-round pick of the Cubs in the June 2011 amateur draft.
“I don’t mind it,” Baez said when asked if all the attention was a distraction.
As the days wear on, the Baez factor should begin to take a more dramatic hold on the team, according to first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who had the game-winning single in the 12th inning Sunday of a 3-2 win against the Rays.
“He is going to do fine,” Rizzo said. “He just needs to play baseball. That is what we tell him. He has played his entire life. It is no fluke that he is up here. I am hitting behind him now, I see him up close. His takes are really nice, and I am pleased. He struck out some early, that is part of the game. He does not let anything bother him.”
Working his way through the first week of his big league career has been a whirlwind of media and fan buzz for Baez. The help of a savvy media relations department has helped the young second baseman breathe.
Now, the next step of just playing baseball should be an easier transition.
“He appears to be more focused over the last couple of days,” manager Rickey Renteria said of Baez. “He seems more focused in his particular zone and thereby seeing more pitches. He was more contentious, it will get to the point of being a happy medium. He is trying to discover the set that will work for him. He will have time to work it all out.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.