Cubs manager Joe Maddon didn't see Javier Baez flip his bat when he popped up in the seventh inning on Wednesday night. But Baez's teammates did, and one of them said something to the second baseman about it in the dugout. Baez admitted postgame that he learned from the incident, and that kind of awareness and policing by the players is a good sign, Maddon said.
"That's definitely the needle moving in the right direction when they're accountable, which I believe our guys are, and as a group they police each other," Maddon said Thursday.
Cubs players have been able to handle things internally without Maddon or the coaches interfering. Sometimes, the discussions aren't about baseball, either.
"I've never been around that," Maddon said. "I'm impressed where they're going mentally right now as human beings, which I think will spill over on the baseball level and benefit us, too. The fact [Baez] said that, I do believe, is a residue of those meetings.
"It's nothing I've done," Maddon said. "I stay out of their way. This is something they wanted to do among each other."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle wasn't surprised someone said something.
"You watch [Baez] flip that bat in the air last night -- where's the respect for the game?" Hurdle said. "The guy hits four homers in two days, so that means you can take your bat and throw it 15-20 feet in the air when you pop up like you should have hit your fifth home run? I would bet that men over there talked to him, because I believe they've got a group over there that speaks truth to power -- and the kid's showing physical power."
Maddon was impressed by the players taking action and Baez recognizing what he did was wrong.
Consider this a warning to the rest of the National League:— Andrew Belleson (@ChicagoCubsPA) 12 de abril de 2018
Javier Baez esta muy, muy enfuego
"That's actually a proud moment," Maddon said. "If the players feel strongly that they're free that they can have these kind of conversations independent of us to galvanize the culture even further, that's wonderful. In practice, here comes a guy, 'Javy, we don't do that here.' Javy [says] 'You're right, I made a mistake.' What else could you ask for?"