CHICAGO — The defending champion Chicago Cubs might have to get by without electrifying star Javier Baez after he left their loss to the Atlanta Braves on Sunday because of blurred vision in his right eye.

Baez took a knee to the eye while diving into second base in the second inning. He departed in the third.

He was being examined at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and was expected to join the team in Pittsburgh on Monday.

“Javy’s one of the best shortstops in the league, hands down,” pitcher Mike Montgomery said. “It’s unfortunate that he came out like that. I hope he’s gonna be all right. We need him.”

Baez is a major part of the Cubs on offense and defense. He has been filling in at shortstop with Addison Russell sidelined since early August because of a strained right foot.

Baez had just walked when he got caught off first and sprinted toward second. His helmet flew off as he dove into the bag, and his eye hit second baseman Ozzie Albies’ knee.

Baez came out to shortstop in the third inning but exited with one out after motioning toward the dugout. Mike Freeman replaced him.

Baez was experiencing blurred vision when he left the game. The Cubs said that subsided in the trainer’s room. Baez was not in the concussion protocol.

Manager Joe Maddon said he had “no issues” with Baez going head-first rather than sliding into second. He also thought Atlanta’s Max Fried should have been called for a balk, and that the out call should have been overturned by the replay review.


More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball