(670 The Score) Cubs manager David Ross benched shortstop Javier Baez in the team’s 4-0 loss to the Indians on Monday evening after Baez’s mental lapse in which he was doubled off first base upon losing track of how many outs there were.
With one out in the bottom of the fourth inning and the Cubs trailing 1-0, first baseman Anthony Rizzo flied out to left field. Believing there were two outs, Baez rounded second base and headed for third base, giving the Indians plenty of time to complete the double play back at first.
"We just got to make sure we're focused and locked in during a game,” Ross said postgame. “Sometimes, our frustrations can distract us a little bit. We had a good conversation, and I think that's behind us. Javy is really important to this team. He's a leader on this team and set a good example every time he's on the field.
"It's just a little bit of lapse in concentration. We talked about it, and that's behind us.”
Ross thought Baez’s focus was off, so he believed giving him the rest of the evening off was best.
“When you see somebody who might be a little distracted, you try to get somebody else in there that’s maybe focused and give that person a break – maybe they’re just grinding a little bit mentally and not all the way there,” Ross said. “You try to give them the rest of the day and come back tomorrow refreshed and ready to go.”
Baez admitted he was “surprised” to be removed from the game.
“Obviously, I never want to be out of the lineup,” Baez said. “I just respect his decision. He told me why it happened. I just said, ‘OK, it’s your decision.’
Asked if he thought it was the fair move for Ross to make, Baez responded, “I just respect his decision.”
“I blame it on myself,” Baez said. “I lost count of the outs, and you know, we talked about it. We’re on the same page. I’ll be there tomorrow to help the team.”
Ross had a conversation with Baez in the dugout upon pulling him. He later admitted it was a difficult decision as well.
"I'm not trying to set an example of Javy ever,” Ross said. “That guy plays his butt off and brings it 99.9% of the time. It's not about setting an example for a star player that's a big part of this team. That's not it. It's just, let's get somebody in there that's fresh and let him regroup. He'll be better for it tomorrow. We'll all be better for it.
“I did not feel good to take Javy out of the game … I never feel comfortable doing that at all. That’s a pit in my stomach and was in my stomach the entire game.”
Baez was replaced at shortstop by Sergio Alcantara. Baez is hitting .226 with 16 homers, 44 RBIs and a .724 OPS in 64 games this season.