Baez still getting into swing of things

August, 13, 2014
Aug 13
11:23
AM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- He's just a week into his big-league career and Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez is still swinging, and he's shown he will swing at anything.

When he makes contact, he usually hits the ball pretty hard, as he did in smashing three home runs, two doubles and four singles, including several that broke his bat, over his first seven games.

[+] EnlargeBaez
Brian Kersey/Getty ImagesJavier Baez has missed on 34.7 percent of his swings, high above the league average of 23.2 percent.
Even the outs are hit hard, like the first-inning shot to the wall in center field in a 3-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday.

But when the 21-year-old slugger misses, it can look ugly.

"He swings hard no matter what," Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo said Tuesday. "From the first swing to the last swing."

Gallardo faced Baez for the first time Monday night and was asked if he thought Baez's mammoth cuts were unique in baseball.

"I think everyone does," Gallardo responded with a smile. "He's a power hitter. It's one of those things where you use that against him."

That's a little insight into what Baez is going to be facing once the league gets to know him. In fact, he's already facing that kind of strategy, as the minor league scouting reports haven't really changed on him since coming up. Basically, the book on him says not to throw a pitch over the plate until it's necessary. Going into Tuesday's game, Baez had missed on 34.7 percent of his swings, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That's way above the league average of 23.2 percent.

"It's amazing the torque he creates," Cubs hitting coach Bill Mueller said.

Mueller isn't tinkering with Baez's swing just yet. That might not come until spring training, if at all. But he is amazed at the power Baez can generate.

Mueller was asked if there could be an injury risk with such a violent swing. Obliques have been known to get hurt with much less violence involved.

"He's been doing it his whole life, so he has the body that can do it," Mueller said. "He's strong."

Baez, who hit 60 home runs the past two seasons in the minors, says he won't change anything and nor should he, at least not this early in his career. As teammate Anthony Rizzo told him recently, "You're here for a reason."

Baez didn't get to the majors by taking it easy in the batter's box. But that doesn't mean adjustments won't come. In fact, Baez is already looking more comfortable. Consider this: In his home debut Friday, Baez struck out four times, Saturday it was three, Sunday two and on Monday just once. He went 0-for-4 on Tuesday but made contact in all four at-bats.

"We understand that if you make a mistake over the plate and he connects with it, it has a chance to go a long way," Gallardo said. "But we also know he likes to swing. I have to use that in my favor."

Baez is batting .243 with an identical on-base percentage because of the absence of a walk to go with 13 strikeouts in 37 at-bats. The Cubs will be OK with a high strikeout-to-walk ratio, but not that high. The hope is balance will come with experience.

For now, enjoy the big swings.

Jesse Rogers | email

Chicago Cubs beat reporter
Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Starlin Castro
BA HR RBI R
.292 14 65 58
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Rizzo 32
RBIA. Rizzo 78
RA. Rizzo 89
OPSA. Rizzo .913
WJ. Arrieta 10
ERAT. Wood 5.03
SOJ. Arrieta 167