Cubs’ Javier Baez breaks hand, leg but steals home anyway

Chicago’s indestructible infielder had bones breaking skin, called them minor compared to getting win in NLCS

Baez believes diving on this catch caused his injuries.

During the first inning of the first game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night, Javier Baez — the Chicago Cubs 24-year-old second baseman — apparently broke bones in his throwing hand and fractured his right tibia as he stopped a line drive near second base. But the scrappy infielder did not tell his manager Joe Maddon or see the trainer when he returned to the dugout. He played on.

And that might not have been Baez’ most amazing feat during the debut game in the National League pennant run. Sucking up the pain in his leg, Baez stole home in the second inning — the first Cub to do so in a postseason match-up since 1901, and only one of 19 players to do so in baseball playoff history. He also made a record 13 throws for put outs during the game.

“I know how important this series is to my teammates, our fans, and the city of Chicago,” said Baez when asked about his two injuries that would have sidelined most players. “I could have gone with the ice or pain meds, but I needed to stay sharp out there.” Baez said he knew something happened when he heard bones crunch in his hand and a sharp pain in right leg.

Upon hearing of Baez’s injuries after the game, Maddon shook his head, “The guy’s a beast. When you’re young you can shake off things like that, but we’re going to have to keep a close eye on him through the rest of the series.” Baez played the entire second game on Sunday night, but baseball observers said he did not seem as sharp as he was in game one.

“I’ll be alright,” commented Baez. “I felt a twinge in the hand when I tried to grip the bat and maybe I didn’t get the cuts I wanted, but no way am I sitting out.” Baez said the fracture seems to have largely healed over night as it did not effect his running. “I’ve always been a quick healer, even when I was playing high school ball back in Jacksonville.”

Asked if they might pitch Baez differently now that they are aware of his physical limitations, LA Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said he didn’t think much could stop the acrobatic infielder. “Look, our guys might brush him back at the plate, try to get him to step funny and maybe re-injure the leg, but you’re not going to shut down Javie, not a chance. ”

As the teams head west to Los Angeles for the third in the seven game series, now tied at one, Baez has an extra day to rest and recover before resuming play. On the team plane, Cubs catcher David Ross called Baez one of the toughest young players he’s ever seen. “At age 39, people call me durable,” said Ross. “but I’m no match for Javie. I knocked a ball out of Wrigley once in spite of a really painful anal fissure, but Javie is in a class by himself. I think the kid’s made of titanium or something.”

Asked about the titanium claim, Cubs president Theo Epstein categorically denied it, “All of our players have been screened for bionic joints and limbs. I can definitively state that no one on our team has ever tested positive for foreign metals. The Chicago Cubs play clean.”

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