Not Even Sore Heel Can Keep Javy Báez from Walking Off

Javy Báez was out of the lineup Tuesday for the second consecutive game after leaving Sunday’s contest early with what the Cubs have said is a heel contusion. And because it wasn’t a healed contusion, Javy had a precautionary MRI in order to better evaluate his status moving forward.

He injured the heel while charging a chopper and making a throw to first, a play that initially led viewers to assume he’d hurt his ankle. Or knee. Or groin. Basically, everyone just assumed the worst.

Given the Cubs’ less-than-sterling track record with injury diagnoses, the news of additional tests didn’t exactly set anyone at ease. I mean, “precautionary MRI” strikes my ear with the same sort of contradictory ring as “a little bit pregnant.” And while team hasn’t revealed results of the imaging, the fact that Javy was out there at all tells us they saw nothing too serious.

All it took was one swing from the magic man to quell (most of the) concerns about his health.

It’s all too easy at times like these to get caught up in the moment and start talking about destiny and whatnot, but I’ll be damned if that’s not exactly how Tuesday night’s game felt. Javy stepped in after sitting for more than three full games and ripped the first pitch he saw, a slider down and away, into right to win the game.

It’s not a surprise that he was able to hit it, because that’s what he does. Javy has made incredible improvements in his ability to punish pitches in that location, and his opposite-field stroke is unparalleled in the game right now. But under those circumstances, with the whole MRI thing hanging out there?

“Give [head athletic trainer PJ Mainville] some credit on the tape job,” Joe Maddon said after the game. “Right before he went up there, we taped him up and he said he can do this. This is right out of the Lombardi-era stuff.”

Or like something out of Hollywood, the kind of stuff that makes you feel like this team really does have something big in store. It reminded me of Rocky or even Best of the Best, which is bar none the greatest Eric Roberts-led martial arts film ever made

But lest we get too euphoric, the whole heel situation isn’t yet resolved. I mean, yeah, that big hit seemed to provide a more accurate result that any MRI — and we saw how well traditional imaging worked for Yu Darvish last season — but Javy sort of tempered things after the game.

“I just jammed it right into the ground,” Javy told Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. “You know, it happened to me before. I’m used to wearing plastic (molded cleats). I started wearing metal cleats like three years ago, so I’m trying to get used to (them) because of how wet it is in Chicago and the weather and stuff.

“But I feel great, I feel good. I’ll be ready to play tomorrow, hopefully, and if not, we’ll see.”

Javy did exhibit a perceptible limp on his initial step after the hit and, though he didn’t appear too hobbled while jogging to first, he almost certainly could not have played the field if it had come to that. His availability for Wednesday hasn’t yet been determined, but another day off seems likely. As someone who’s been battling plantar fasciitis in his heel for over a month, I can tell you that it’s no joke when it comes to athletic performance.

The good news is that the Cubs would not have put Javy out there if they had any real concerns about his heel. I mean, it’s not like it’s a wrist contusion from an HBP. So let’s just revel in this win and not let any of those worries creep in for at least another [insert your preferred length of time here].

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