By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) The legend of young Cubs second baseman Javier Baez continues to grow with every at-bat in the big leagues. On Wednesday night in a 4-2 win against the Brewers, the 21-year-old rookie hit a frozen rope out of Wrigley Field that reminded Cubs fans of Sammy Sosa’s majestic home runs back in the day.
Baez has been more relaxed of late, having quality at-bats that end up more times than not with a hard-hit baseball.
“He is a young man that is trying to show everybody he belongs here,” Cubs manager Rickey Renteria said. “Over time you keep telling them to be themselves. In time, hopefully as they see their at-bats accumulate, they start to have a sense themselves of what they are suppose to do.”
Baez doesn’t appear to lack any confidence and seems non-plussed by unproductive at-bats. His first Wrigley Field home run and fourth of his career ignited a buzz in the crowd that continued to a higher level when Anthony Rizzo followed immediately with his 27th home run, on the first pitch from Brewers starter Kyle Lohse.
Although Baez has yet to draw a walk in 41 at-bats, he has the full support of the Cubs front office.
“He has done things as expected,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “There have been some highs and some lows. I am sure he will settle somewhere in the middle at some point.”
Baez has at least one hit in six of his last seven games (10-for-31 for a .323 average in that stretch). The line-drive home run that he hit off of Lohse on Wednesday was still going as it hit above Waveland Avenue behind the ballpark.
“This is why he is here,” Hoyer said before the game. “He can play every day and have these experiences. The way he is as a player, he can learn of these things. Obviously you can see the talent. You see the things he does well, and he will keep learning. The guys on the team have embraced him and seem to like having him around. This should be a good 45 days for him.”
Hoyer was asked if the team wants Baez to play shortstop at some point this season, a spot incumbent Starlin Castro currently mans.
“We think when Javy gets comfortable at second base, he will be a real good one,” Hoyer said. “We know he can play shortstop.”