Magician’s insight: Javy Báez gives Puerto Rican rapper Residente a special baseball lesson
Javy Báez has become as well known for his famous swipe tag as he has for his hitting and overall defensive skills.
So, what’s it like getting a baseball lesson from the Cubs’ superstar shortstop?
Well, Puerto Rican rapper, Residente, had a firsthand lesson. As part of MLB Originals programming, Báez and Residente (René Juan Pérez Joglar) partnered on a series called “The Tryout”, where Residente “tries out” for a spot on the Cubs roster.
In addition to taking fielding drills, tagging drills and batting practice, the duo spent their time at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz., talking on various topics, including their home island of Puerto Rico, their career paths and their love of baseball.
The pair reflected on where they were in 2017 when Hurricane Maria ravished the island. Residente, who rose to stardom with the rap group Calle 13, was on a solo tour for his first solo album, Residente, in Argentina and Chile, while Báez was with the Cubs chasing a second straight World Series title.
“I started to collect food and water from all the concerts and brought it to Puerto Rico,” Reisdente told Báez. “I got a huge supply and took it on a military airplane from Chile.”
Báez, too, was quick to support his home island.
“I went to speak to (Joe Maddon), about sending some help,” Báez said, “and he thought I was going to leave. I told him, ‘no one can go there.’ It was desperate times. I said, ‘let’s send food, batteries, things like that.’ So, we sent an airplane with help.”
Residente — who was wearing a Cubs jersey with the number 21 and his name emblazoned on the back — and Báez were acting in the spirit of another famous Puerto Rican, Roberto Clemente. Clemente, who died in a plane crash when he was taking relief supplies to earthquake-stricken Nicaragua in 1972, was remembered by the Puerto Rican duo.
“You like Clemente?” Báez asked Residente.
“Yes, Clemente, the Boricua star,” Residente said. “He’s an example on and off the field.”
Although the two were born after Clemente passed, they knew the importance of his work.
“His peak was a long time ago, but people still know him as the person he was,” Báez said. “You will never hear negative comments about him, you always hear good comments.”
The two talked about Báez’s style on the field and how that has evolved as he has had more time in the big leagues.
“It’s not that it is not the correct way of doing it, it’s just not the way many coaches teach it,” Báez said. “I was very criticized because of this, because I did things in a different way, but obviously you get used to hearing them. Just receive what’s useful to you and leave the rest behind.
“That’s why I have fun.”
Residente continued his tryout learning Báez’s famous swipe tag and giving it a try himself. The pair took batting practice, with Báez taking some cracks from the left-hand side. The video ended with Báez and a Cubs coach meeting, discussing what they had seen from Residente.
The result? An “offer” to join the Cubs Double-A affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies.
“I hadn’t played baseball for 20 years, it felt spectacular. I think if I practice a little more, I can make it,” Residente said with a smile.
Photos courtesy of MLB