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Javier Baez shaky in center as Cubs lose Cactus League opener

Javier Baez missplayed Jonathan Villar's first inning hit which led to Milwaukee's first run. AP Photo/Morry Gash

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- The Chicago Cubs dropped their Cactus League opener to the Milwaukee Brewers, 2-1, in front of just 4,279 fans. The Cubs can expect more than 20,000 in their home debut in Mesa, Arizona on Friday. Here's a few takeaways from Game No. 1. of the spring:

Javier Baez in center: Baez was tested immediately in center field where he's trying to learn a new position. The first three Milwaukee hitters hit the ball to him starting with Jonathan Villar's triple off the wall. Baez got turned around several times and should have played it off the wall to keep Villar to a double. Then he threw offline on a sacrifice fly before taking a bad route on the next fly ball which popped in and out of his glove.

"I haven't missed one ball all spring training," Baez said afterwards. "Good thing it happens now and not later."

Analysis: The urgency for Baez in the outfield has changed with the return of Dexter Fowler. Now he can be third on the depth chart in center behind Fowler and Jason Heyward but the Cubs want him proficient enough to use in the regular season.

"I think I'm too hyper back there," Baez said smiling. "I just have to relax."

Baez went 0-for-2 at the plate with a strikeout.

Travis Wood/Kyle Hendricks: The pair combined to go four innings each giving up a run. Hendricks struck out four feeling he made "good pitches, down." He didn't bury an off-speed pitch while ahead in the count on his first batter who doubled but he threw better pitches after that in compiling his multiple strikeouts.

"I was trying to get into rhythm with the game," Hendricks said. "Just making sure I was settled down."

Analysis: There is no reason to think the Cubs won't give Hendricks a rotation spot come April. His 3.95 ERA was respectable enough last season and he thinks he found something late in the year to help him with his mechanics. He should be allowed to play that out once the regular season begins.


Miguel Montero went 2-for-2, both hits going to left field. That's always a good sign for a lefty. Using the whole field isn't always an easy task as his hitting mechanics were on target in Game 1.

Daniel Vogelbach doubled home the Cubs' lone run with a ball off the left centerfield wall. He has a chance to impress scouts around the league before being sent to Triple-A Iowa. Vogelbach is blocked at the big league level by Anthony Rizzo at first base. A trade at some point in the next year to 18 months is likely.

Up Next: The Cubs host the Los Angeles Angels in their home spring opener on Friday. Prospect Pierce Johnson starts on the mound while newcomers Ben Zobrist and Heyward are expected to make their debuts along with returning veteran Fowler and Addison Russell.