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Baez energizing Cubs with his flashy defense

MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It may be February, but Cubs second baseman Javier Baez was in midseason form Saturday when he made two stellar defensive plays.

"That's the kind of tone you're looking to have set, that defensive tone, that energy tone, that enthusiasm," manager Joe Maddon said on Sunday. "Everybody comes running into the dugout and they're going nuts because it's almost like hitting a grand slam."

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It may be February, but Cubs second baseman Javier Baez was in midseason form Saturday when he made two stellar defensive plays.

"That's the kind of tone you're looking to have set, that defensive tone, that energy tone, that enthusiasm," manager Joe Maddon said on Sunday. "Everybody comes running into the dugout and they're going nuts because it's almost like hitting a grand slam."

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Maddon was not surprised by the hustle.

"I just think everything is refreshed, a refreshed approach," Maddon said. "We're in a good place mentally, we're playing with that enthusiasm necessary. We're capable of that defense. On any given day, if we come out with the right kind of attitude and we're physically refreshed and mentally refreshed, we can do that.

"The guys are getting off to the right kind of start."

Video: Baez excited about new coaches, wants Gold Glove

• In his second game as the leadoff man, Ian Happ got the Cubs on the board quickly, hitting an opposite-field home run off Giants ace Madison Bumgarner in the Cubs' 12-10 win on Sunday. Happ added an RBI single in the second, with another run scoring on the play due to an error.

Happ gets first look at leadoff spot

Video: Happ talks about batting leadoff for Cubs

Mike Freeman hit a game-tying two-run double and Chris Gimenez hit a three-run double in a six-run fourth.

Kyle Schwarber had two hits and stole two bases. Maddon has seen a difference in Schwarber, who reported to camp a lot slimmer than last year.

"It's not, 'Oh, he looks thinner, so he'll look quicker and be more nimble,'" Maddon said. "I watch him on the bases and it seems everything moves more easily. Having said that, I never thought he was slow. I always thought he moved well for a big man. I think all of this is going to help. When you mentally do what he did, it's like you deserve to do better. He's going to be better because of the work he did, plus the information he's received."

Oscar De La Cruz did not waste any time pitching in the ninth inning on Saturday against the Rangers, and his quick pace impressed Maddon.

"Even in the meetings, that wasn't hammered home to me how much he was like that," Maddon said. "It's refreshingly unusual. He's quick, but also has that focus and aggressive assertiveness, 'attacking the zone' approach. I felt it from the side. If you're hitting, you've got to feel that. Maybe that could become contagious."

Video: Top Prospects: Oscar De La Cruz, RHP, Cubs

De La Cruz, 22, ranked No. 3 among the Cubs' top-30 prospects by MLB Pipeline, said he learned that early in his career.

"That's my tempo," said De La Cruz, who was 4-3 with a 3.46 ERA in 12 starts at Class A Myrtle Beach last year. "I try to throw strikes, confuse hitters."

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.

Chicago Cubs, Javier Baez