(CBS) While the Cubs have a well-rounded roster entering spring training, they also have a handful of questions to answer over the next six or so weeks in Mesa, Arizona.
One of those is this: Where will $184-million free-agent acquisition Jason Heyward most often play? The answer is center field, general manager Jed Hoyer said recently in an interview on 670 The Score.READ MORE: Parents Of Michigan School Shooter Arrested After Manhunt
“The way things are set up, Jason’s going to play a lot of center field,” Hoyer said. “We have no doubt that he’ll be good out there.”
A three-time Gold Glove winner, Heyward primarily played right field for the Cardinals last season. There was some discussion this offseason about whether free-agent center fielder Dexter Fowler could return to Chicago after a solid 2015 campaign — thus shifting Heyward to a corner spot — but that interest appears to have passed by, with the Orioles showing the most interest recently in Fowler and the Cubs content with their current group.
One scenario in which Heyward could get more playing time at a corner outfield spot is if Javier Baez impresses the team in center field in spring training. Baez has been an infielder his entire career, but the Cubs are will experiment with him in the outfield. A quality infielder, the hope is that Baez could bring dependable defense to the outfield as well and thus get more at-bats.
Baez often shagged balls in the outfield in batting practice at Triple-A Iowa last season and also played some outfield in winter ball.READ MORE: Evanston Police Host Gun Buyback Event
“He’s a great infielder, but we’ll push him out to the outfield and see how he looks,” Hoyer said, before referencing manager Joe Maddon’s desire to have versatility.
“Joe’s creative, and he wants to manage that way.”
Kyle Schwarber is currently slotted to play left field, with Jorge Soler in right field.
Heyward showed up to spring training about 10 days early. The Cubs’ pitchers and catchers need to report by Friday, with their first official workout Saturday. The first full-squad workout is next Wednesday.MORE NEWS: Annual Wheaton Reindeer 5K Returns In Person And Virtually
“I love the fact that he came in early,” Hoyer said. “I think he wants to make a great impression. I think we’ll probably emphasize to him to just go out and do what you’ve always done, and that’s fantastic. I think sometimes guys put a lot of pressure on themselves when they sign a big contract, so it doesn’t really surprise me that a guy with his motivation would come in early. It’s great.”