(CBS) Javier Baez will start at second base for the Cubs on Tuesday night for the second time in as many games to open the 2017 season, but manager Joe Maddon maintains that Ben Zobrist will likely get the majority of the playing time at the position as the year moves along.
Zobrist has a night off Tuesday as the Cubs face right-hander Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals. He started in right field in Sunday’s opener as Baez played second base, with Maddon explaining that lineup as a tribute to those who were on the field for Game 7 of the World Series when the Cubs won their championship last October.
“I would probably, if I had to guess, say Zobrist will get the predominant play at second base,” Maddon said on the Spiegel and Parkins Show on 670 The Score.
Zobrist is sitting the second game in large part because of Maddon’s desire to get Albert Almora in the lineup, which shifts Jason Heyward over to right field. Almora will bat ninth.
Because of the 24-year-old Baez’s marvelous defensive ability, many have theorized that he’ll play second base more than the 35-year-old Zobrist. In 2016, Zobrist started 90 games at second, while Baez started 33. Baez was the primary second baseman in the playoffs, with Zobrist shifting to the outfield.
The outfield equation is different now with Kyle Schwarber fully recovered from his knee injury and serving as the everyday left fielder, and Maddon is playing the lineup game as it goes.
“Trying to keep all of these guys active is going to be very important,” Maddon said. “I honestly don’t know the answer (to the second base equation). I mean, with injuries, things could change rapidly. But (Wednesday), you’ll see Zo at second base. You see Javy for two games here.
“They’ll both play there. And you still might see Javy in other spots too, but for right now, if everybody stays healthy, it’s going to be difficult to balance everything out.”
Listen to the full interview below.