MILWAUKEE – Some people make a big deal about Cinco de Mayo or the 4th of July.
The Cubs seem to have a thing for Siete de Abril. With plenty of fireworks. But nothing worth celebrating.
Exactly one year after the outfield collision that cost young slugger Kyle Schwarber his 2016 season, Cubs center fielder Jason Heyward and second baseman Javy Baez collided while chasing a popup to shallow center in the bottom of the sixth inning Friday in Milwaukee – sending another chill through the organization as their flashy young infielder lay on the Miller Park turf.
Baez gave a thumbs-up from the ground as he waited for the trainer to reach him, but he was clearly shaken up by the play. And after the trainer checked his head, face and neck area, Baez left the game.
Baez appeared to escape the kind of serious injury Schwarber suffered on a left-field collision the third game of last season with then-center fielder Dexter Fowler in Arizona.
The team announced he suffered a bruised left eye.
Schwarber’s knee was injured so severely he required reconstructive surgery that cost him the rest of the season – until he returned ahead of schedule to DH during the four road games of the World Series.
If nothing else, Friday’s play suggested the Cubs might want to skip straight to the second week of the season from now on – or at least give their center fielders the red light when in vicinity of one of their prized young former first-round draft picks.
The play overshadowed a strong Cubs debut for Brett Anderson, the injury-prone left-hander signed over the winter to a one-year contract with two-thirds of the value tied up in workload-related bonuses.
In fact, the tying run scored on the play when neither Heyward nor Baez was able to reach the bloop Hernan Perez, which went for a two-out single that erased the Cubs’ 1-0 lead.
Perez was the first batter of the game for reliever Justin Grimm, who took over for Anderson after a two-out single, wild pitch and another single put runners at the corners.
Until then Anderson allowed only three hits and a walk to take his slim lead two outs deep into the sixth.
Grimm got Manny Pina to eventually end the sixth, stranding two runners and limiting the damage charged to Anderson.