Baez gets the start, Cubs demote six

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

Cubs fans shouldn’t read too much into it, though just the idea is mildly intriguing. Shortstop phenom Javier Baez will be in action Monday, playing in place of the injured Starlin Castro. And he’s penciled in alongside what many feel is going to be the Opening Day lineup (sans Anthony Rizzo, who boosted his Italian squad to the second round of the World Baseball Classic over the weekend).

Many publications—Vine Line is no exception—have followed the organization’s top prospect very closely of late. From his stellar season in High-A, to breaking his hand in the Arizona Fall League, to participating in the Cubs’ Rookie Development Program, to being invited to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, it’s all been well documented. Many scouting sites, like Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and ESPN, have named him an elite prospect and the top name in the Cubs system.

But while fans might be excited by Baez’s impressive spring (.360 AVG, two homers, 25 at-bats), it’s also been well documented how far away the Cubs feel he is at this stage of his career. On multiple occasions, manager Dale Sveum has lauded his abilities, but reminded reporters that Baez is only 20 years old and has some growing up to do.

Jeff Samardzija will get his third start of the spring as the Cubs go on the road to take on Arizona Monday afternoon. Righty Trevor Cahill will throw for the D-Backs. First pitch is scheduled for 2:10 CST, and the game can be heard on a free webcast at Cubs.com. Here’s the lineup Sveum has posted for Monday:

CF David DeJesus
2B Darwin Barney
RF Nate Schierholtz
LF Alfonso Soriano
3B Luis Valbuena
C Welington Castillo
SS Javier Baez
1B Steve Clevenger
P Jeff Samardzija

Cubs Notes: Rafael Lopez, Alberto Gonzalez, Christian Villanueva, Brett Jackson, Dave Sappelt and Jorge Soler are also expected to get into the game Monday.

The Cubs sent pitchers Alberto Cabrera, Trey McNutt and Brooks Raley and infielder Logan Watkins to Triple-A Iowa; pitcher Robert Whitenack to Double-A Tennessee; and pitcher Nick Struck to minor league camp.

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