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Baez backing his swagger with a potent bat

Baez backing his swagger with a potent bat

LAS VEGAS -- The legend of Javier Baez grew after he hit a dramatic two-run walk-off home run on Friday in the ninth to lift the split-squad Cubs over Team Japan. Baez told teammate Welington Castillo, who was on deck, that he wouldn't need to hit.

Cubs fans who haven't seen Baez need to watch this weekend. On Monday, the shortstop was expected to be among the players sent to the Minor League camp, joining highly touted outfielder Jorge Soler and third baseman Christian Villanueva.

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Baez headed into Saturday's game with a .290 average, two homers and six RBIs in 31 at-bats -- and that doesn't include his four at-bats on Friday in the exhibition -- which was fourth on the team behind Darwin Barney, Brad Nelson, and Nate Schierholtz. That's a lot for a player projected for Class A.

"The last week, it seemed like he turned into a different kid, the way he went about things, his at-bats," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "I think that inner cockiness will always be something that's a huge asset for any good player. People who play in the big leagues, there's always an edge to them, one way or the other. He's got that edge. He wants to be that guy. I think he got comfortable as big league camp went on in the environment and with the guys. We all know it's there."

The Cubs' No. 1 pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Baez isn't shy. He has a MLB logo tattooed on the back of his neck. Some teammates razzed him by adding a "Rookie of the Year" decal on the back of his car.

What Sveum's been happy with is watching Baez develop. His work habits have improved as camp has progressed.

What about that cockiness?

"As long as you back it up, it's OK," Sveum said. "That's what good players do."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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