CHICAGO — Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Baez was benched by manager David Ross after forgetting how many outs there were and getting doubled off first base in the fourth inning of Monday’s 4-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
“We have to make sure we’re focused and locked in during the game,” Ross said afterward. “Sometimes our frustrations can distract us a little bit.”
Baez said he was “surprised” when he was pulled but accepted the punishment.
“I never want to be out of the lineup,” he said. “I respect his decision. He told me why it happened and I said, ‘OK, it’s your decision.'”
Baez, 28, was on first base with one out when Anthony Rizzo hit a fly ball to left fielder Eddie Rosario. The Cubs shortstop was rounding second and headed to third base as Rosario caught the ball, easily getting it back into the infield to double off Baez.
“I lost the outs,” Baez explained. “I had the whole time that it was two outs. I ran like it was two outs.”
After Baez came off the field, cameras caught him and Ross talking in the dugout before Baez headed toward the clubhouse, while Sergio Alcantara took over for him at shortstop.
“We had a good conversation and I think that’s behind us,” Ross said. “Javy is really important for this team and he’s a leader on this team.
“When you see somebody that might be a little distracted, you try to get somebody else in there that is maybe focused and give that other person a break.”
Baez said he wasn’t distracted but simply made a mistake.
The Cubs lead the National League in outs made on the base paths, an area of the game they’ve had issues in for years. It’s the second time in two seasons Ross has benched a former teammate of his from his playing days after pulling Kyle Schwarber for a lackadaisical effort in left field.
“I’m not trying to set an example of Javy, ever,” Ross said. “That guy plays his butt off and brings it 99.9 percent of the time.
“I did not feel good taking Javy out of the game. I never feel comfortable doing that at all. It was in my stomach the entire game.”
Baez also indicated the incident was behind them while hoping to turn the page.
“There are no hard feelings,” Baez said. “We talked after the game. We’re on the same page right now.
“Things happen. Things happen between teammates and managers. It happens.”
The Cubs are averaging 1.8 runs over their past eight games. They’re 2-6 in those contests.