Shatter up: Cubs prospect Javy Baez puts on power display
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter February 21, 2014 9:12PM
Updated: March 23, 2014 6:21AM
MESA, Ariz. — The growing legend of Javy Baez claimed another victim Friday during batting practice on a back field.
“Everybody in the outfield heard it,” nearby teammate Logan Watkins said. “I saw it fly, and then I heard a sound.”
“Glass,” Watkins said.
“The rumors are true,” he added.
Baez, one of the hardest-hitting players in camp, took out a car window with one of several shots over the fence and had no idea until somebody told him about it.
He shrugged when asked for his thoughts.
“It sucks for the person who parked there,” he said, smiling. “They’re parking too close to the field.”
In his second big-league camp at 21, Baez — Baseball America’s fourth-ranked prospect — is the tenured veteran compared to other big-name prospects such as Kris Bryant and Albert Almora.
Baez said he feels more comfortable in camp this time around (obviously in batting practice), and wherever he goes from here — Class AAA Iowa or Pittsburgh for the Cubs’ opener, shortstop or third base — he’s just working, waiting and listening to the veterans.
Starlin Castro — who pushed incumbent shortstop Ryan Theriot in camp four years ago, then pushed him off the position that May — is one of those veterans.
“He tells me all the time, ‘You’re gonna get there,’ ” Baez said. “Whenever they think I’m ready. And we just wait now.”
Outfielder Nate Schierholtz was banged up in a collision with teammate Junior Lake during a pop-fly communication drill (insert punch line here).
He was sent home early for precautionary reasons after being checked by the team doctor, said manager Rick Renteria, who expected Schierholtz to return to practice Saturday.
Lake was fine and finished his work schedule.
Renteria said last year’s Opening Day starter, Jeff Samardzija, will start the spring opener Thursday against the Arizona Diamondbacks and christen the Cubs’ new spring stadium.
The 3:05 p.m. game is to be broadcast on Channel 9 and Cubs.com radio.
The Cubs also have an intrasquad game scheduled for the stadium Wednesday, with prospects Kyle Hendricks and Eric Jokisch in the pitching matchup.
Right-handed starter Jake Arrieta, who has been slowed as camp opens because of shoulder tightness earlier this month, said that if a flat-ground throwing session Saturday goes well, he could be throwing from a mound in the next few days.
Arrieta still hopes to start the season on time.