The Cubs will start Javier Baez at second base on either Monday or Tuesday, according to Cubs manager Rick Renteria. The report comes from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Baez, rated the fourth overall best prospect by Baseball Prospectus, has played exclusively at shortstop throughout his three-year professional career. As Wittenmyer notes, it would be Baez’s first start at second base since high school. With Starlin Castro already at shortstop, the Cubs have comparatively more flexibility at second base with Darwin Barney.
Baez, 21, has already survived a round of cuts and despite never having played above Double-A, he has a legitimate chance to make the Cubs’ 25-man roster.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.