GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Cubs don’t sound too concerned about the bruised right heel that forced Javier Baez to leave Friday’s 7-0 win over the White Sox at Camelback Ranch.
Baez walked off the field in the sixth inning with assistant athletic trainer Ed Halbur after hustling for an infield single and landing awkwardly on first base. The Cubs think this will be nothing more serious than a day-to-day issue. The Baez coverage has been minute-by-minute this spring.
The 21-year-old elite prospect entered the day with five homers, which tied him for the major-league lead with Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, White Sox outfielder Jordan Danks and Cincinnati Reds outfielder Chris Heisey.
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Baez is expected to make his Wrigley Field debut at some point this season — after polishing his game at Triple-A Iowa, taking the free-agency/arbitration considerations into account and working on the transition from shortstop to second base or third base.
“Anything’s possible,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I can’t discount any of that. But in the immediacy, I think we’re as pleased as everybody else is as to how he’s shown this spring. I think he had a pretty good showing last spring, also. We’ll just take it day-by-day and see how we go.”
Chris Rusin is having another good spring, and the 27-year-old lefty is making a case to be the No. 5 starter. In front of 13,038 fans and a Chicago television audience, Rusin shut down the White Sox for five innings, allowing only two hits.
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Across his last three outings, Rusin hasn’t allowed a run or a walk, a streak of 12 scoreless innings. With Jake Arrieta (shoulder) expected to begin the season on the disabled list, the decision will come down to Rusin or veteran swingman Carlos Villanueva.
The Cubs have traded away 40 percent of their rotation in each of the last two seasons, and look like they will be aggressive sellers again this summer. So just like Baez, Rusin coming to Chicago should be a matter of when, not if.
“I’m ready for it all,” Rusin said. “I’m ready to start anywhere they want me to. I’m not going to hang my head. Just get better. That’s all I got to tell myself.”