Who the Cubs could use at second base while Javier Baez plays shortstop
Second base will be the base to keep an eye on during the early part of 2019 for the Chicago Cubs.
Javier Baez, who moved from second to shortstop last year after Addison Russell was suspended 40 games for violating Major League Baseball's domestic-violence policy, will open this season at short.
The Cubs will have an array of choices play second as the Russell situation plays out:
• Reliable veteran Ben Zobrist returns for the final season of his four-year contract with the Cubs -- one of the best deals in team history -- after a comeback season last year, when he played 63 games at second and had a hitting line of .305/.378/.440 with 9 homers and 58 RBI.
• Veteran Daniel Descalso came from Arizona on a free-agent contract in December. He played in 52 games at second last year and had a line of .238/.353/.436 with 13 homers and 57 RBI. He can play all of the infield positions in addition to left field.
• David Bote made a splash with a couple of walk-off homers last year while playing 13 games at second base and 56 at third. He wound up with a batting line of .239/.319/.408 with 6 homers and 33 RBI.
• Ian Happ announced early in spring training that he is throwing his hat into the ring at second base. He got into 2 games at second last year and has 46 appearances there for his career. His line in 2018 was .233/.353/.408 with 15 homers and 44 RBI.
"Joe and I were in communication this off-season, which was good," Happ said, referring to manager Joe Maddon. "We had some really good, candid, conversations. I was able to say, 'Look, I would like to be considered for this (second base). I'd like some time there because last spring training I played all center field. You get to the season, and it's like, 'Well, now I have to be able to play them all.'
"That was my goal this spring -- come in and play a bunch of different positions to really prepare myself for what I'm going to be doing for the season. Joe and I have always had a really good relationship, but I think that you have to earn your stripes, not that I have yet, but I think that the more experience you have, the more time that you spend with somebody, you're able not only open that relationship but open dialogue.
"Joe is so good at that, letting us feel that we have a say and that we can say whatever we want to and he'll take it and listen to us."
Zobrist has been the good soldier throughout his major-league career. He said it will be no different this year as he will see time in the outfield as well as at second base.
"I'm really not concerned about it at all," he said. "I'm just here to do whatever is necessary to for this ballclub. We have a lot of capable guys, just like always. There's a lot of good players and not as much playing time to go around.
"Regardless, I'm here to work. I'm here to be ready to jump in any situation, whatever they need."