MESA, Ariz. -- Some players have unique batting stances. Javier Baez has a tag play all his own.On Tuesday in Puerto Rico's game against the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, Baez made a swift swipe tag at second base to help nab Nelson Cruz, who was trying to
MESA, Ariz. -- Some players have unique batting stances. Javier Baez has a tag play all his own.
On Tuesday in Puerto Rico's game against the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, Baez made a swift swipe tag at second base to help nab Nelson Cruz, who was trying to steal. Baez took the throw from catcher Yadier Molina and started celebrating the out before easily swiping the tag on Cruz, who may still be wondering what happened.
"Everyone's attempting to emulate him," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Baez. "Everyone wants to tag like Javy now. In a strange way, in a very short period of time, he's put himself on the map through his ability to tag somebody out at second base. It's crazy."
• Baez makes no-look tag (while celebrating) on a stealing Cruz
Baez's defensive play in the postseason helped catapult the Cubs to the World Series title, but it hasn't earned him the starting job at second base. He heads into the season sharing second with Benjamin Zobrist.
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
"He'll get plenty of [playing time]," Maddon said of Baez. "He'll probably be at second base, and then give [shortstop Addison Russell] a day off now and then. I'm sure he'll play often. We'll figure it out as the season is in progress. I don't want it to be that he has to play because somebody else can't."
Baez began last season as a reserve and emerged as a stellar defensive player, getting more playing time when Zobrist started in left field. At the end of the year, Zobrist totaled 113 starts at second. Baez made 38 starts at second, but played in 59 games total there. In the postseason, Baez started all 17 Cubs playoff games at second.
"He'll have his number of at-bats by the end of the season," Maddon said. "It'll work its way out."
The play on Tuesday night seemed typical for the World Baseball Classic.
"They feel totally uninhibited regarding the playing of the game and how they're playing it," Maddon said of the World Baseball Classic teams. "I'm not denigrating -- it's just part of the culture there.
"I don't think [Baez] would do that here [in the big leagues] -- probably not," Maddon said. "If he did, I would not be upset, but I think that's the nature of the game right now. When the Dominican plays Puerto Rico or Venezuela or Mexico, the boys are going to show their wares."
The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games in San Diego's Petco Park and the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
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.