Joe Maddon didn't move Javy Baez to center field, but he ran all the way out there to catch this ball anyway
Cubs manager Joe Maddon is known for doing surprising things -- putting relief pitchers the outfield:
Switching infielders around repeatedly in a single game:
Letting Anthony Rizzo pitch:
And so on. He's consistently unpredictable, but as yet, his defensive maneuverings haven't led Javier Baez to man center field.
In Thursday's 5-4 win over the Braves at SunTrust Park, however, Baez made a bid for potential consideration as a center fielder with a twisting, running catch well beyond the confines of the second-base region. And he made it look easy:
Starts with an M- Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 31, 2018
Ends with a P
Not a cleaning instrument or a geographic chart. pic.twitter.com/eYiKwmR8hr
Just Javy being Javy.
"It's one of those weird things when you're sitting in the dugout, you can see the trajectory of the ball, and you know that he's got a shot at it," Maddon said after the game. "Immediately I thought Albert [Almora Jr.] had a shot at it, but he was way too deep. They just cleared out and let Javy go. It's on the run, he timed it perfectly, it's not that easy. A lot of times, the ball is going to be bouncing on you when you're running that hard and running away. That is one of the better plays you're going to see."
Baez's teammates got a kick out of the play, as Almora recapped:
"When he made the catch we were all emotional and excited. We didn't say anything, we just screamed."
Baez's stellar catch was a bit reminiscent of one turned in by the A's Ramon Laureano in Houston on Wednesday, though his was just a bit farther back in the outfield:
Don't let the ease with which those two made those plays fool you. That's very hard to do.