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Baez, Cubs excited for Players Weekend fun

MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

PHOENIX -- Most Cubs fans can identify who "Snake," "Addy," "Zorilla," and "Stropy" are on the team. But when the Cubs play the Phillies later this month, fans will be introduced to "El Mago," a.k.a. the magician, Javier Baez.

• Players Weekend gear available at MLBShop.com

PHOENIX -- Most Cubs fans can identify who "Snake," "Addy," "Zorilla," and "Stropy" are on the team. But when the Cubs play the Phillies later this month, fans will be introduced to "El Mago," a.k.a. the magician, Javier Baez.

• Players Weekend gear available at MLBShop.com

That's the name Baez will have on the back of his special edition jersey, which the Cubs will wear as part of the inaugural Players Weekend, Aug. 25-27. The non-traditional uniforms feature alternate designs, and players will have their nicknames instead of their last names on the back.

Jake Arrieta is "Snake," Addison Russell is "Addy," Ben Zobrist is "Zorilla," and Pedro Strop is "Stropy," for those who don't know. Baez won't be the only Cubs player with a unique name. Albert Almora Jr. will have "Tico" on the back. His father is Alberto, and Albert is known by family as "Albertico," hence "Tico."

Jose Quintana will be "Q," and Jon Jay will pay homage to Miami with the area code and his initial -- "305 J" -- and Carl Edwards Jr. will be "Carl's Jr."

Tweet from @javy23baez: 🎩 EL MAGO 🎩 #PlayerWeekend #JB9 🔥 pic.twitter.com/ddps5b6Oxn

 Baez learned of his nickname when he returned home to Puerto Rico after the 2016 postseason. Because of his acrobatic plays and quick snap tags at second base that helped the Cubs win the World Series, he was dubbed, "El Mago."

"Everybody in Puerto Rico started calling me that," Baez said. "They were saying I was making plays that nobody could make. I kind of liked it, and I knew nobody else was called that, so I started putting it on my Instagram and stuff and now everybody knows about it."

If anyone didn't know, they will now. The Cubs players have picked up the nickname as well.

"[My teammates] call me that -- even [Anthony] Rizzo," Baez said. "Sometimes he does it to make fun of me. It's all in fun."

He's even heard some fans yell his nickname during games. Can Baez do magic tricks?

"No, not yet," he said, laughing.

The infielder likes the idea of wearing the unique jerseys.

"The fans will get to know more about you this way," Baez said. "They can find out why or how you got the name. I'm sure it'll be a fun weekend."

Besides the jerseys, made by Majestic Athletic, the players will wear uniquely colored and designed spikes, batting gloves, wristbands, compression sleeves and catcher's masks. Even the bats will get jazzed up that weekend. The caps are designed by New Era, and the socks by Stance. During pre-game workouts and postgame interviews, players will wear T-shirts to highlight a charity or cause of their choice.

Each player also will wear a special patch on his sleeve showing the progression of a child evolving into a Major Leaguer. Under that logo is white space, and players can mark the name of a person whom they are grateful to for helping them advance their careers, such as family or a coach.

Game-worn, Players Weekend jerseys will be auctioned at MLB.com/auctions with 100 percent of the net proceeds donated to the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation. That foundation is a joint effort established in July 2015 by MLB and the MLBPA with an initial commitment of $30 million focused on improving the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs across the U.S. and Canada

The uniforms will first be worn by the Pirates and Cardinals during the MLB Little League Classic on Sunday in Williamsport, Pa., during the 2017 Little League World Series.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

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