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Inbox: Has Baez earned full-time job at second?

March 28, 2017

MESA, Ariz. -- Javier Baez, playing time and pitching are among the questions in this week's Cubs Inbox.Do you think the impact that Javy Baez had in the World Baseball Classic will influence the playing time and the role that was originally planned for him? Do you see him getting

MESA, Ariz. -- Javier Baez, playing time and pitching are among the questions in this week's Cubs Inbox.
Do you think the impact that Javy Baez had in the World Baseball Classic will influence the playing time and the role that was originally planned for him? Do you see him getting the full-time job at second base, sending Benjamin Zobrist to be the everyday left fielder?
-- Ben A., Barcelona, Spain

Playing in the World Baseball Classic was a confidence boost for Baez, but it won't affect his playing time or his role with the Cubs. Manager Joe Maddon has said Zobrist and Baez will share second base. Baez also will get starts at shortstop when Addison Russell needs a breather. They'll all get plenty of at-bats. What Maddon is hoping is that the players learned how tough a seven-month season can be on them, and the importance of rest.
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I know they say it's a good problem to have, but how will Maddon find playing time and at-bats for Baez, Zobrist, Albert Almora Jr. and Jonathan Jay? If they add Ian Happ, it becomes more complicated.
-- Mike P., Roselle, Ill.

By season's end, they'll all get their at-bats. What will be key is that players check their egos at the door and are focused on helping the team, not their stats. As for Happ, the Cubs' No. 2 prospect who has been amazing this spring, he will open the season in the Minor Leagues but he definitely opened some eyes.
What's your view of Jason Heyward's progress this spring? Does he look like he's going to bounce back offensively or continue to struggle?
-- Jim M., Pasadena, Calif.

Heyward says he feels better about the changes he made, and that's what matters. He's hit a lot of balls right at defenders this spring, so the stats don't look good. What's encouraging is that he's making better contact.

I'm confident the Cubbies will make another run at the title this year but my only concern is the starting pitching. My question is: What starting pitchers of significance do you expect to be available at the Trade Deadline? I feel we have to go out and get a No. 3 or 4 starter at the deadline.
-- Edgar G., Chicago

I'd have to disagree about the Cubs needing more starting pitching. The rotation of Jonathan Lester, Jacob Arrieta, John Lackey, Brett Anderson and Kyle Hendricks could total 200 innings apiece. That's the goal. It means the bullpen isn't overworked and the starters are having success. Considering that the Major League ERA leader (Hendricks) is the fifth starter, that's a pretty good rotation.
It seems Kyle Schwarber will be the leadoff man for the Cubs, especially against right-handers. Who would be leading off against lefties? What do you think of Almora there?
-- Devarsh T., West Chicago

Most likely Zobrist, who was a .301 batter against lefties last year (.261 vs. right-handers).
What is the plan for a guy like Jeimer Candelario who is blocked at every position he plays?
-- Tony P., New Orleans

Candelario, the team's No. 5 prospect, just has to go play in the Minor Leagues. There's a baseball cliche that these things have a way of working themselves out. Candelario had another good spring, and the Cubs know what he can do.

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.