(CBS) As it’s wont to do in today’s culture of instant gratification, public perception can change quickly for a prospect after he reaches the major leagues.
In the case of Cubs infielder Javier Baez after he made his debut last August, talk of prodigious power quickly turned to concerns over his free-swinging ways that resulted in strikeouts. Lots and lots of strikeouts — 95 of them in 229 plate appearances.READ MORE: Man Stabbed On CTA Blue Line Train Near Irving Park Stop
For the Cubs’ part, they’re preaching patience, but they’ve also made it known to Baez that his ways have to chance. And they’ve given him some parameters.
“It’s a little bit of a mindset issue,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer told the Mully and Hanley Show on Friday morning. “Take your shot to do damage early in the count, but when you get two strikes, I think it’s important you put the ball in play. I think we’ve gotten to a stage in baseball where unfortunately where we overlook the negative aspect of strikeouts. A strikeout with two outs and no one on is not a big deal. But a strikeout with guys on base, when you have a chance to move runners or have a chance to drive in a run with less than two outs, that is a big deal.READ MORE: Jussie Smollett Trial: Jury Could Get Case As Trial Resumes Monday
“He has to understand there are times when you can’t strike out. You have to put the ball in play. He’s worked hard. When people have asked me about Javy this spring, I’ve kind of looked back to (Anthony) Rizzo. When Rizzo came up to the big leagues in 2011, very similar struggles. Once things started going in the wrong direction, they really plummeted that direction. And he had to come back that next spring and really revamped his swing to catch up with better fastballs that the saw in the big leagues. And he did that. Adjustments are hard when you have to make adjustments in the big leagues.”
Hoyer and the Cubs brass remain high on Baez’s potential.
“That’s what Javy’s going to have to do,” Hoyer said. “He’s going to have to make some adjustments and going to have to cut down on his strikeouts. If he does that, we’ve got a guy who can play shortstop and second base and hit 30 home runs on an annual basis. But you’re going to have to put the ball in lay more often than he did last year. He knows that, and he’s working hard to make the adjustments.”MORE NEWS: Delivery Driver Shot In Head In Back of The Yards; 18-Year-Old Struck In Thigh
Listen to Hoyer’s full interview here. He also talks about Kris Bryant and expectations for 2015.