Báez could return if Cubs make playoffs

Chicago Cubs' Javier Baez reacts after being forced out at first base during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

All-Star shortstop Javier Báez could return to the Chicago Cubs if they reach the playoffs.

Báez saw a hand specialist in Chicago who confirmed the slugger has a hairline fracture of his left thumb. He is expected to miss the rest of this month, but the team said Monday he will continue his rehab in hopes of playing in October.

The slumping Cubs headed into their series opener at San Diego in the NL’s second wild-card slot.

Báez got hurt on a headfirst slide into second base during a 4-0 loss to Milwaukee on Sept. 1. He is batting .281 with 29 homers and 85 RBIs.

“We’re just going to have to wait on Javy,” manager Joe Maddon said.

With Báez and Addison Russell sidelined, touted prospect Nico Hoerner was promoted from Double-A Tennessee and got the start against the Padres.

Russell was hit in the head by a pitch from Milwaukee’s Adrian Houser on Sunday. Maddon said the Cubs would know more about Russell’s condition after he is seen by a local doctor.

The 22-year-old Hoerner was selected in the first round of last year’s draft out of Stanford. He is the first member of the 2018 draft class to join a big league roster.

Hoerner hit .284 with three homers and 22 RBIs with Tennessee. He was limited to 70 games due to a broken left wrist.

He is the first Cubs prospect to make the jump from Double-A to the majors since Kyle Schwarber in 2015.

“The one thing that stands out about him is a lot of self-confidence,” Maddon said. “Not in a braggart way, just a self-confident young man. From the moment I met him, he gave me the impression that he thought he belongs here, which I love.

“He’s very comfortable in his own skin. I anticipate a good result. I know one thing, he’s going to play hard and he thinks things through very well. He’s one of those guys who has great makeup.”

Maddon also said third baseman Kris Bryant, who had a cortisone shot in his sore right knee on Sunday, might be able to play Tuesday night.

Braves 7, Phillies 2 — At Philadelphia: Mike Foltynewicz threw seven impressive innings, Josh Donaldson and Ronald Acuna Jr. hit homers and NL East-leading Atlanta beat Philadelphia.

Atlanta increased its lead over Washington to 9 ½ games and reduced its magic number to 10 with 17 games remaining. The Phillies entered two games behind the Cubs for the second wild-card spot in the NL.

Mets 3, Diamondbacks 1 — At New York: Pete Alonso hit two home runs to take the major league lead, Jacob deGrom struck out 11 and New York beat Arizona in the opener of a crucial four-game series for both teams.

Alonso hit a solo drive in the first inning, then connected for his 47th home run in the fifth. He moved two ahead of Mike Trout for most in the majors and closed within five of Aaron Judge’s rookie record set two years ago.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Yankees 5, Red Sox 0 — At Boston: New York officially ended Boston’s three-year reign as AL East champs, blanking the Red Sox behind another big effort by James Paxton.

Boston dropped 18 ½ games behind the division-leading Yankees with 18 games left.

The defending World Series champion Red Sox are still in playoff contention, but barely.

They began the day eight games out of the second AL wild-card spot.

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