3/20/2014 3:36 P.M. ET
Baez bounces back quickly from collision
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
MESA, Ariz. -- Javier Baez survived a collision in left field with Anthony Giansanti, who also survived, knowing he wouldn't be very popular at Wrigley Field if he hurt the Cubs' top prospect.
Baez and Giansanti crashed in shallow left chasing a fly ball in the Cubs' game against the Rockies on Wednesday night. Baez said they couldn't hear each other calling for the ball. Baez lay on the ground for a few moments, feeling the impact in his left wrist and right knee, and couldn't bend his wrist.
"At first, I couldn't take my glove off for some reason," Baez said.
Cubs fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Baez got up, and stayed in the game. So did Giansanti.
"He told me, 'If you get hurt, everybody will hate me in Chicago,'" Baez said.
Cubs manager Rick Renteria had a long conversation with Baez, nearly walking all the way from left to shortstop after the collision.
"He was just telling me if I wanted to throw a little bit and catch the ball because of my wrist, but I told him I was fine, and he said, 'I just want to make sure,'" Baez said. "I don't like coming out of games, no matter what happens on the field. I don't like coming out of games."
Renteria did get a little twinge in his stomach when he saw the shortstop lying on the ground.
"When any of the players go down, something grabs you a little," Renteria said. "As a player, sometimes the initial shock of any action takes you down, so then you're regrouping as you're laying there. A lot of it is [checking that] 'I'm OK.'"
Baez had no problems in the eighth inning when he hit his fifth spring home run, which put him in a tie for the Cactus League lead. The ball landed next to a cactus plant in the batter's eye at Salt River Fields, and was estimated at 450 feet.
"My first year I played in the [Arizona] Fall League, I hit a ball that far, too," Baez said.
He did confess that it was "the best ball I hit in Spring Training." What does that feel like?
"It feels good -- you don't feel the ball hit the bat," he said. "That's when you know you hit it good."
A lot of his friends saw the blast, and sent him text messages. Baez knows Cubs fans are eager to see him in the big leagues on Opening Day, however, the front office has been adamant that he will start at shortstop for Triple-A Iowa. The media asks him about his future. So do his family and friends.
"They asked me pretty much every day, and I don't know what to answer," Baez said. "I know I will figure it out and let them know as soon as I know."
Renteria has preached patience with the club's prospects all spring.
"I think he's doing extremely well, and I think he's showing some adjustments, but I think that, as we've mentioned before, we're looking to make sure that the person that we take, whomever it is, is not coming back [to the Minors]," Renteria said. "You just keep perspective and understand where he's at in his development. You still see and understand there are things he has to still work on, and you keep that in mind and let things take care of themselves."
Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija likes what he's seen so far of the 21-year-old infielder.
"He's a heck of a player and that's what you need," Samardzija said. "We don't just need one Baez, we need six, seven more of him. As long as he keeps doing his thing, we expect big things out of him."
Arrieta to pitch simulated game Friday
MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta, slowed this spring because of tightness in his right shoulder, will throw two innings in a simulated game on Friday.
Arrieta said he is on schedule in his rehab.
"Everyone is going to be sore," he said. "For me, the three-week buildup of preparing for the season is the most difficult time as far as keeping your body ready and bouncing back for your next outing. That's standard for everybody across the board. I will be sore, but that comes with the territory of getting ready to throw 100 pitches in a game for 30 starts in a row."
Arrieta, projected for the fifth spot in the rotation, is back on a regular routine, and that's helped, too.
"For me, that's very important, so I can approach each day as I would throughout the season and get into that routine," he said.
Meanwhile, James McDonald was feeling better after coming out of his last start with soreness in his right shoulder. McDonald threw two pitches on Monday before he was lifted because of discomfort.
"The work we've been doing the last couple days has helped," McDonald said. " Tomorrow we'll see how I feel and go from there."
Cubs pitchers acknowledge dangers of line drives
MESA, Ariz. -- No pitcher wants to take the mound fearful that he could be hit with a line drive the way the Reds' Aroldis Chapman was on Wednesday night.
"You don't really think about it," Cubs right-hander James McDonald said Thursday. "When you see it, you're like, 'Oh, that could be anybody.' When you see it, it turns your stomach a little bit. You don't wish that on anybody because you don't know how it could affect them afterword."
McDonald has been hit by balls before, and has been struck in the chest a few times, but never his face.
"I can't imagine what it would feel like," he said.
Chapman was struck in the face by a line drive from the Royals' Salvador Perez, and is expected to be sidelined at least six weeks.
"For me, it's something you think about occasionally, and then you see something unfortunate like that," Jake Arrieta said. "I felt not only bad for him but his family and teammates. It's not something you ever want to see. I hope he recovers quickly and can get back with his team.
"We realize we're 60 feet from that hitter, who can generate a lot of power," Arrieta said. "Reacting to something like that is extremely hard to do. It's a scary situation and something we have to deal with and prepare for as best we can."
Arrieta remembers being hit in the face when he was in high school, taking a fastball off the orbital bone on the left side of his face, but he was batting.
The proposed protective helmets wouldn't have helped Chapman.
"It hit him in a really bad spot," Arrieta said. "Unless we go out there wearing a cage, those kind of things will happen. We're all aware of the issue, but there's only so much you can do without putting a cage on a guy's head. We just have to do everything we can to be in a position to defend ourselves."
Cubs manager Rick Renteria missed a year after he was struck in the face.
"For me, it was a little different," Renteria said. "He was on the hill, I was on second base and got hit with a line drive. What kept me out again was they had to re-break my jaw and do another surgery to correct the way it settled. I think once you get back on the field and you start getting back in the rhythm, you just go out there and don't even think about it anymore."
• The Cubs traded outfielder Trevor Gretzky, son of hockey legend, Wayne Gretzky, to the Angels for Matthew Scioscia, who is manager Mike Scioscia's son. Matthew, 25, batted .194 at three Minor League levels last season, while Gretzky, 21, hit .274 at short-season Boise and Class A Kane County.
Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto told reporters the deal gives the two players a "new opportunity."
• Travis Wood, scheduled to follow Jeff Samardzija in the rotation, will tune up with a start in the Minor League camp on Friday, facing the D-backs' Triple-A team. Wood, 27, has given up seven runs on 14 hits and one walk over 10 2/3 innings, striking out 11.
• The Cubs assigned left-handed pitcher Tommy Hottovy to Minor League camp on Thursday, reducing the spring camp roster to 44. Hottovy, 32, had appeared in three spring games and given up one hit and one walk, while striking out five.
• The Cubs' wives will host a mystery baseball charity event on Saturday at Cubs Park to raise money for Paz de Cristo in Mesa, which helps feed, clothe and empower those in need in the east valley. Fans can purchase an autographed ball for $30. There also will be game-used bats, jerseys and other equipment for sale. The wives will be set up near the left-field gate inside Cubs Park.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.