'El Mago' Javy Baez teaches his magic tricks to Little Leaguers in Elk Grove
Few major leaguers can quite tag runners out -- or evade tags on the base pads himself -- like Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez, who's so good at it he's received the moniker "El Mago," or The Magician in Spanish.
But he tried his best to pass along some baseball wisdom to the 450 or so Little Leaguers who signed up for his one-day sports camp Monday at Elk Grove High School.
"Sometimes it's hard to get it," Baez said of explaining his on-the-field magic tricks to the campers, "but I try to explain it as clear as they can get it, because they're kids and you gotta be patient with them. I think if they start practicing now, in the future I would say eight to 10 years from now they will be much better."
It's the second time Baez has come to Elk Grove Village to teach baseball fundamentals to boys and girls in grades 1-8, with the help of local high school and college baseball coaches working at various stations on hitting, throwing, base-running and defense.
Baez said there weren't similar camps when he was growing up in Puerto Rico, idolizing the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Manny Ramirez, whom he considers a mentor.
"I grew up without this, man," Baez said. "It's incredible when you see kids that smile when they see you. It means a lot for them and it means a lot to me. The way that so many kids come out here for this, it's really special for me."
ProCamps Worldwide, the Cincinnati-based company that ran Baez's camp Monday, will also host camps with Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky June 25-26 at Lake Forest Academy, Bears running back Tarik Cohen July 15-16 at Elk Grove High, and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo July 18 at The Ballpark at Rosemont.