MESA, Ariz. – He’s only 20, but even Javier Baez said what he has done the last 2 days is “amazing.”
The Cubs’ future shortstop hit a home run Saturday on the first pitch he saw, giving him three homers on three pitches in three straight at-bats.
And then he hit another one later that is one of the longest in recent Hohokam Stadium annals.
“I’m seeing the ball pretty good and hitting the ball hard,” Baez said. “I just like [swinging at] the first fastball I see. Sometimes I miss it, sometimes I hit it.”
Baez’s two homers on Friday will not go down in official Cactus League statistics because they came in an exhibition against Team Japan. Official or not, he finished 2 days of work with four home runs on just seven pitches.
In his first at-bat Saturday, he homered on the first pitch. In the second, he flied out to deep left on the first pitch.
And in his third at-bat against the Royals’ Bruce Chen, he smoked a 1-1 pitch for a homer, one so long it nearly cleared the left-field scoreboard.
While it may be tempting for fans to say stick him in the void at third base and let him flail away, the No. 1 draft pick in 2009 still is considered a shortstop and never has played above Class A. He most likely will start the season at Double-A Tennessee.
“There’s no rush,” said coach Jamie Quirk, who was filling in while manager Dale Sveum was with the split squad in Las Vegas. “Some guys are special and his talents will take him as quickly as he needs to be. But there’s no rush.”
Rizzo returns: After nearly 2 weeks of being on the road with Team Italy, Anthony Rizzo returned to the Cubs Saturday. He was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
It’s a pain: Outfielder Brett Jackson, who probably is headed back to Triple A, will be out of drills for about a week after an MRI showed inflammation in his right shoulder.
“I’m going to keep working every day, the No. 1 [goal] is to get 100 per cent healthy going into the season,” the former first-round draft pick said. “It’s a little minor thing, we’re just being cautious.”
Jackson said he experienced pain only when throwing and not from swinging the bat. He is hitting .313 with a homer and three RBIs in 13 spring games.