Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez will not start the season with the team because of a thumb injury.
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Baez Placed on DL
Tuesday, March 29
Per Comcast SportsNet Chicago's Patrick Mooney, the Cubs placed Baez on the 15-day disabled list with a contusion on his left thumb. He has been dealing with pain in his thumb since March 20.
Baez was a September call-up in 2015 when rosters expanded to 40 players in preparation for the postseason, and his performance earned him a spot on the team in 2016.
Baez batted .289 with a .325 on-base percentage on a Cubs team that advanced all the way to the National League Championship Series against the New York Mets.
During Chicago's postseason trip, Baez batted .333 in six games with a home run, three RBI and two stolen bases.
Baez was in the mix for a spot on the Cubs' 25-man roster to start 2016, with manager Joe Maddon telling Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune the thumb injury was a concern because "[Baez] has not had enough at-bats, that he's not played enough different positions in the outfield."
While he's impressed with the bat, he's also looking like a professional in the field, according to ESPN.com's Jesse Rogers:
He looks the part, making effortless plays at second, third and shortstop. His performance in Pittsburgh had his teammates and manager talking. In one stretch at third base, he made six consecutive outs on balls in play, then the next night he moved over to shortstop and was in the middle of all the action there as well. Even a bad day at the plate isn’t keeping Baez from contributing.
Having a player as versatile as Baez in the Cubs lineup provides the flexibility to ensure there is no drop-off in skill in the infield. He's allowed infielders such as Kris Bryant, Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell time to rest, which could prove vital come the dog days of summer.
Losing Baez hurts Chicago's depth and could force its infield to play more. However, the team could turn to Tommy La Stella to serve as the utility man it needs while waiting for the 23-year-old to return.
Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
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