By Mark Grote–
(CBS) Cubs infielder Javier Baez can whale on a baseball, yet it’s his glove work that could ultimately land him on the playoff roster should the Cubs eventually clinch a postseason berth.
“He’s just different,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I don’t even know if I’ve ever even had anybody quite that comfortable on the infield, especially at that age.”
The 22-year-old Baez is different, in a helpful way. While Baez bats and throws right-handed, all of his other everyday activities, such as writing, are performed with his left hand.
“I’m a natural lefty,” said Baez, who’s hitting .320 in eight games. “I used to hit lefty, but it hurts my back, so I stopped hitting lefty in high school.”
Baez believes that having a strong glove hand is a key component to his defensive prowess.
“I’m really smooth with my left hand, because I’m used to using it all the time,” he said.
Maddon has played Baez at second base, shortstop and third base since Sept. 1, the date on which the team recalled its 2011 first-round draft pick.
“It’s incredible to watch how smooth he is and how comfortable he is at all these positions,” Maddon said.
And if Baez could narrow it down to just one preferred position?
“To be honest, my favorite position is center field,” Baez revealed.
“Yea, for sure,” he said.
The Cubs are strong in center field with Dexter Fowler having a brilliant second half of the season, but it’s not safe to rule anything out with Maddon running the show and Baez’s versatility.
Mark Grote is the Cubs pregame and postgame host on WBBM. Follow him on Twitter@markgrotesports.