Baez's 4-HR night could lead to promotion
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Can one game move the needle on a player's timetable to shoot up through the minor leagues?
That was the question to Cubs President Theo Epstein on Tuesday, one day after shortstop Javier Baez hit 4 home runs for Class A Daytona against Fort Myers.
The 20-year-old Baez joined former Cubs farmhand and 2003 top pick Ryan Harvey as the only players to have hit 4 homers in a Florida State League game.
The Cubs aren't going to rush Baez, their first-round draft pick from 2011, but Epstein did address the move-the-needle question.
"In some ways it can," he said. "We ask players to execute the player-development plan. That's how they get to the next level. A night like that, if it's part of a longer stretch, and so far it has been this month, where he clearly dominates his competition, that gets him closer to moving up.
"Any one night or any one game in itself doesn't really change the progression or the pattern of the player. He's doing really well. What stands out to me more than the power ... (is) he's really started to have better quality at-bats and have his swing under control more and cut his strikeout rate down a little bit and seeing some more pitches. He still got some polish to his game before he moves through the organization."
Baez has a hitting line of .291/.339/.570 with 13 homers and 44 RBI. He also has 26 errors. However, Epstein said many of the errors have come on "extreme plays at the end of his range" or on rundown plays.
"We actually feel better at this moment about his ability to play shortstop every day in the big leagues than we did on Opening Day because of the way he's playing shortstop," Epstein said.
Epstein on Castro:
Starlin Castro doubled in his final at-bat Monday night and entered Tuesday with a line of .243/.283/.341. He had just 4 hits in his previous 42 at-bats.
Manager Dale Sveum said that although he has considered a day off for Castro, he has not thought about "benching" him. Theo Epstein expressed confidence Castro would come out of it.
"I just think he's in a slump and he's going to turn it around pretty soon," Epstein said. "It's tough. I feel bad that he's going through this. Obviously, we'd like better production and we will get better production out of him going forward.
"In a way, it shouldn't be unexpected because baseball is a game of failure and adjustments. You like for your players to fail in the minor leagues and see what it's like and come to terms with that and make their adjustments and come back. It helps them when they go through that at the big-league level. Starlin is so talented that he has never really failed before."
Cubs get reliever:
After Tuesday's game, the Cubs acquired right-handed reliever Henry Rodriguez from Washington for minor-league pitcher Ian Dickson, who was with the Kane County Cougars. Rodriguez, 26, was 0-1 with a 4.00 ERA in 17 games for the Nats.
Reliever Kyuji Fujikawa underwent Tommy John surgery Tuesday, and the Cubs said the surgery was successful. Fujikawa, whom the Cubs signed to a two-year, $9.5 million contract in the off-season, will rejoin the team later this week to begin his rehab.
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