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Javy Baez has another blast for Cubs

Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez throws OaklAthletics' Josh Reddick out first during during fifth inning an exhibitibaseball game Phoenix

Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez throws Oakland Athletics' Josh Reddick out at first during the during the fifth inning of an exhibition baseball game in Phoenix, Monday, March 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

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Updated: March 19, 2014 12:35AM



SURPRISE, Ariz. — Javy Baez had an offensive game to remember and a tough time at his new position Tuesday night.

Playing his second-ever pro game at second base, the Cubs prospect hit a third-inning home run, going back-to-back with Mike Olt against the Rangers’ Alexi Ogando. It was the fourth homer of the spring for each of them.

But the Cubs blew a 6-0 lead and lost 7-6 in 10 innings.

“Very impressive,” said the game’s starting pitcher, Jason Hammel. “Mike put up a great at-bat and launched it. Javy coming up behind him — very aggressive.”

Baseball America’s No. 5 prospect doubled down the left-field line in the seventh and then stole third base.

In between, though, Baez committed his first pro error at the keystone. Ranging to his left, Baez let a Bryan Petersen’s ground ball — a potential double play — go through his legs in the fourth inning.

Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel: Walks must stop

Jason Hammel felt fine in a tuneup start Tuesday night against the Rangers, though he allowed four earned runs on seven hits in five innings.

But there was one annoyance.

“The only thing bugging me right now is the walks,” he said. “I’ve been walking too many guys … I just gotta get that fastball command.”

Hammel walked two batters and struck out two more, throwing 78 pitches, 45 for strikes. It marked the second-straight Cactus League start in which he had two walks.

The right-hander, signed in February after pitching for the Orioles from 2012-13, said he felt good but was not “looking at the results” of spring games.

Starlin Castro at ‘90 percent’

Working back from a hamstring injury suffered March 2, shortstop Starlin Castro hit, fielded and did light running Tuesday. He declared himself ‘‘90 percent’’ and said he was very close to returning but couldn’t specify when. ‘‘I felt pretty good,’’ he said.

James McDonald’s shoulder OK

James McDonald, who threw two pitches before experiencing shoulder soreness Monday, said he has ‘‘little tendinitis symptoms’’ but hoped he would resume throwing this week.

Whittling down the roster

After throwing three scoreless innings this spring, reliever Arodys Vizcaino was one of five players — along with former first-rounders Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson, lefty Zac Rosscup and infielder Christian Villanueva — optioned to Class  AAA Iowa. Vizcaino, who was acquired from Atlanta in 2012 but hadn’t pitched until this spring after elbow surgery, will stay in the Iowa bullpen. The Cubs sent three to minor-league camp: catcher Rafael Lopez, outfielder Mitch Maier and pitcher Armando Rivero.

On deck

Cubs at Rockies, 8:40 p.m. Wednesday, MLB Network, cubs.com (audio); Carlos Villanueva vs. Franklin Morales.



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