LOS ANGELES -- As the Chicago Cubs make plans to fortify their roster next month, expect 2011 first round pick Javier Baez to return to the big leagues as soon as Tuesday when rosters can expand, according to manager Joe Maddon.
"I would say he would be (here) sooner rather than later," Maddon stated before the Cubs played the Dodgers on Saturday night. "There's a lot of things he can do to help you win now."
Baez is hitting .316 with 13 home runs and a .380 on-base percentage at Triple-A Iowa after being cut during spring training. He missed time this season due to the death of his sister and a wrist injury but the Cubs are liking what they see since his return. Last season he hit .169 in 52 big league games.
"He's playing well," Maddon said. "Moving all over the place so he gets used to that."
Baez has played second, short and third base and could play any of those positions for the Cubs when he's recalled. There should be an opening for some playing time against left-handed pitching as platoon guy Chris Denorfia has slumped (.167) this month while Miguel Montero is hitting .211 against lefties while Kyle Schwarber's average is down to .170. In fairness, the Cubs faced two of the better lefthanders in the game this week in Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw helping to lower those averages.
Maddon has already indicated Kris Bryant could play more outfield while Baez might see time at third base or if Starlin Castro is slumping he could find his way to second. As long as he's hitting -- especially lefties -- playing time should be available for him.
The Cubs have also discussed having a starting pitcher or two ready in September, if they're needed.
"There is the potential to do that," Maddon said. "We've talked about that but we don't feel that we have to but there is potential to do that."
The Cubs won't be dipping into Double-A for a starter but could have Tsuyoshi Wada available among others. He's had mixed results this season at Triple-A where he has a 3.95 ERA but at least he has major league experience. Maddon said they might want a pitcher ready on their roster in case someone gets hurt including mid-game. They'll also keep a few ready in Arizona after Iowa's season ends as Sept.1 won't be the only time the Cubs bring up players.
"It comes in waves sometimes," Maddon said.
Due to a recent rule change anyone on the 40-man roster as of Aug. 31 is eligible for the playoff roster so the team doesn't have to make all their decisions in the coming days. Two recent acquisitions, Quintin Berry and Emilio Bonifacio, could be part of the first wave as well. The Cubs don't have any pure pinch-runners on their current 25-man roster.