Russell and Baez to alternate starts at shortstop
David Banks - USA Today Sports
The Chicago Cubs won a huge 5-3 comeback win against their rival St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday afternoon. However, young shortstop Addison Russell was again not in the starting lineup at shortstop as hot hitting Javy Baez replaced him. During the game, Baez rewarded that decision by manager Joe Maddon as he smashed a solo homer during the game.
"It's not a day off," manager Joe Maddon said about Russell to reporters. "I've been trying to go back and forth. I've been trying to alternate. It's almost like hitting Kyle (Schwarber) ninth. I don't want him to get too many at-bats when you're struggling right now. The fact that Javy's as good as he is permits us to do that with these two guys so that they just don't bury themselves, they don't get overwhelmed, they don't get too quick mentally. So it's a unique opportunity we have."
Baez is batting .270 with nine homers, 25 RBIs, and .299 on-base percentage this season.
Maddon shared that once Russell starts to heat up swinging the bat again, he will get to play more often. Russell is hitting only .211 with three homers, 19 RBIs, and .292 on-base percentage this season.
"Also once you see them, particularly Addison, get back on track normally, then you're going to see him play a lot more often," Maddon said. "But for now, there's a unique set of circumstances going on among this right now with our younger players, especially when it comes to hitting."
The Cubs are loaded in the infield with positional depth that they can overcome an offensive slump by their 23-year-old shortstop. However, Russell needs to get it going this season if the Cubs want to repeat as World Series champions.