Shortstop phenom Javier Baez was among seven players cut from the Cubs' spring-training roster Saturday.
Baez, 21, led the Cubs in home runs in Cactus League play with 5. He had a hitting line of .310/.310/.738 with no walks, 13 strikeouts and 5 RBI.
All along, the Cubs maintained Baez would begin the season at Class AAA Iowa. He was a nonroster invitee to spring training. With a good start at Iowa, Baez could force the Cubs to bring him to the major leagues sooner rather than later.
"He understands he needs to continue to work on his defense," manager Rick Renteria told reporters. "Go down there and put together some good at-bats, try to get on base a little bit more through the process and go out there and be a professional."
Baez, the Cubs' first-round draft pick in 2011, made 44 errors last year between two minor-league stops. But he also hit 37 home runs and drove in 111.
In Friday's game, he suffered a bruised right heel and said it was the result of wearing metal cleats.
Also among Saturday's roster cuts was reliever Blake Parker, who appeared in 49 games for the Cubs last year. This spring he had an ERA of 9.00 and a WHIP of 2.00. He was optioned to Iowa.
The others cut were nonroster men assigned to minor-league camp: right-handed pitchers Chang-Yong Lim and Brian Schlitter, left-handed pitcher Jonathan Sanchez, infielder Chris Valaika and outfielder Casper Wells. Schlitter is a Park Ridge native.
The Cubs' spring roster stands at 37 players.
Left-hander Travis Wood will start the Wrigley Field opener, April 4, against the Philadelphia Phillies. Jeff Samardzija starts the season opener March 31 at Pittsburgh and will be followed in the rotation by Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel for the final two games against the Pirates.
As far as the fifth spot, Rick Renteria told reporters he was undecided. Right-hander Jake Arrieta has been slowed by shoulder tightness. Lefty Chris Rusin is a possibility. Veteran swing man Carlos Villanueva, who started and relieved last year, also is in the running.
"They're all still in the mix," Renteria said. "They're all going out there and doing a nice job."