DENVER -- Javier Baez left tears of celebration in a hotel room somewhere in Omaha when he got the call that he was being promoted to The Show. Yeah, you’ve seen this movie before; but, come on, it doesn’t get old.
Here’s a kid who grew up without a lot of things except for a lifelong dream to play professional baseball. Skip forward through years of struggles and the phone rings. Now he is not only a big league player, he is Chicago's most hyped 21-year-old since Derrick Rose.
Since the news of his promotion, much of Chicago has rejoiced and national outlets took notice of a lowly Cubs team for a reason other than who’s singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at Wrigley Field. Suddenly, everything in Cub Country has become very relevant -- everything except for wins and losses.
For this tortured fan base, that’s OK. Hope and excitement will do for now.
Tuesday dipped a little and replaced that usual Monday lull for Cub Crazies; things were a little grim as the Cubs looked pretty bad against an even worse team in the Colorado Rockies, and Baez had struck out three times and went 0-for-5 in his first five at-bats.
The new infielder didn’t show any jitters throughout, however, and the top-five prospect of 2014 pounded the first pitch he saw from Rockies reliever Boone Logan into the Coors Field bullpen in the 12th inning to put the Cubs up for good.
“He drove that ball pretty well,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “Believe me, I know he had quite a few strikeouts; but it wasn’t for anxiousness. It didn’t seem like he was anxious at all.”
Renteria wasn’t lying, either. Baez wasn’t starstruck by his first hit, his first home run and his first game winner. He simply crossed home plate and pointed toward the stands to his 20-year-old sister, Noely, who suffers from spina bifida.
He wasn't even nervous.
“No, not really,” said the former ninth pick of the 2011 draft and current No. 9 of the Cubs to a bunch of tape recorders shoved in his face. “I take it like a spring training game with a lot of fans.”
Pinch that man.
Looking back, Tuesday should be cherished by Baez and Cubs fans for a long time. But everyone must realize it’s only a step.
“It’s just the start,” Renteria said before the game.
For Baez, he was lost at times in his debut. And if not for a smorgasbord of missed chances by Colorado that sent the game into the 12th inning, Baez looked more like the mushy hitter from the start of his 2014 Triple-A season -- who hit south of .200 -- than the above .300 hitter he was in the past month.
As if he was putting his Triple-A season into one game, Baez struggled and struggled, got a little unlucky and then prevailed.
“Yeah, I struck out three times but I got the winning run,” Baez said with a slight grin. “So that's what's important.”
We get it. With Baez here and more young blood on the way -- the likes of Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler -- Cubs fans should be excited.