Ben Zobrist started the majority of the Cubs’ regular-season games at second base in 2016, but Javier Baez is now in the process of becoming the team’s everyday option at the keystone, writes Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago. Baez started all 17 of the Cubs’ playoff games at second last fall and has opened 2017 by lining up there in four of five contests, which has pushed Zobrist into a super-utility role. Manager Joe Maddon isn’t ready to declare Baez the Cubs’ starter at second, largely because of “all the versatility” the team’s position players possess. However, he admitted that “pretty much what you’ve seen to this point, I think, is like a good indicator of what we’re going to be able to do with everybody being healthy.”
More on two other potential National League contenders:
- Although Travis d’Arnaud is not among the 10 Mets who are scheduled to hit free agency after this season, this is nonetheless a crucial year for the catcher, observes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Mets will need to allocate a large portion of their offseason spending to positions other than catcher next winter, meaning they’d like to avoid having to upgrade behind the plate. The club eschewed free agent catchers this past winter in order to give d’Arnaud another chance to establish himself as a legitimate starter. That came in spite of the fact that the former top prospect has consistently dealt with injury problems, and he only hit .247/.307/.323 in 276 plate appearances last season. The 28-year-old was quite useful in 2015, though (albeit over only 268 PAs), and still regards himself a long-term piece for the Mets. “Big time,” said d’Arnaud, who’s controllable via arbitration through 2019.
- Shortstop Trea Turner departed the Nationals’ loss to the Phillies on Saturday with a hamstring issue, but it seems he dodged a major injury. Manager Dusty Baker only expects Turner to miss a couple days, Dan Kolko of MASN was among those to report (Twitter link). That’s the lone good news of the night for the Nationals, who were on the wrong end of a football-like score (17-3) in Philadelphia.
- Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie got the start for the Nationals on Saturday, his first major league action since 2015, but probably won’t be long for their rotation. Baker stated before the game, via Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com, that the demoted Joe Ross “will be back.” The skipper also insisted Ross and Guthrie aren’t competing for the fifth spot in the Nats’ rotation. Regardless, Guthrie didn’t exactly make his case for the role. In a nightmarish showing, the 38-year-old yielded 10 earned runs on six hits and four walks over just two-thirds of an inning. Ross will be eligible to return to the majors next week.