(CBS) Cubs manager Joe Maddon readily admits that 23-year-old infielder Javier Baez is developing under unique circumstances. Baez's versatility, quality defense, good base-running and power potential fast-tracked him to the big leagues late in the 2014 season, while injuries and penchant for striking out at a high rate held him back in 2015.
All that considered, Maddon's been pleased with Baez's progress in his first week-plus since he made his season debut April 16 after dealing with a thumb injury.
Baez is hitting .261 in 23 at-bats, with seven strikeouts and no walks.
"It's rare you're developing somebody at the major league level under those circumstances," Maddon said. "Normally the guy that's in that moment is probably still in Triple-A or Double-A, the guy that's ... wildly swinging in regards to different methods, not necessarily a wild swing. But I have seen Javy in the games here make adjustments. Really, just watch his front foot. People have tendency to watch the actual swing, and that's where you're going to determine what you're thinking. That's the part of our game people sometimes don't catch on to quickly. Don't watch from the waist up. Watch from the waist down. Watch what he's doing with his feet.
"If you watch his front foot, it's getting on the ground sooner. And sometimes he'll take that bigger swing, that wilder swing with less than two strikes, when the situation permits it. So I think he's been making good adjustments actually."
Maddon doesn't want Baez to ever lose the mindset that got him to where he is in his career.
"We want to err on the side of aggressiveness," Maddon said. "Fortune favors the bold. Those of the kinds of concepts I want our guys to embrace, and he does. That's how he lives. That's how he plays the game. Sometimes he'll make a mistake and you'll call him in or just talk to him about, 'Did you consider this also?'
"Just so that he may have considered it. That's all that would be important to me, but you can't get upset with a guy when he makes a mistake on a bold play because you always love when he makes the bold play work well.
'You can't have it both ways. I prefer the aggressiveness, I prefer the boldness."
Listen to Maddon's full interview below.
Joe Maddon on the Spiegel and Goff Show
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