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MLB News: MLB launches ‘The Tryout’ series with Javier Báez, Residente

Stars come together in debut episode of MLB’s ‘The Tryout’ series

In the debut episode of MLB’s new show, “The Tryout,” the Cubs and star shortstop Javier Báez hold a tryout for Grammy Award-winning artist Residente. The two go through a series of drills at the club’s Spring Training complex in Mesa, Ariz., including hitting, fielding and Báez’s specialty, making tags at second base.

Throughout the episode, the two discuss their Puerto Rican pride, the island’s recovery from Hurricane Maria in 2017, playing and performing with passion and their shared love for baseball and music. Residente discussed the inspiration behind his hit single, “René” — a video which features scenes of him singing on a baseball field while donning a Puerto Rico cap and jersey — sharing moments from his life in which baseball played a significant role.

Residente, who hadn’t played baseball in about 20 years, said before the tryout that he felt he would have a “decent” showing. Indeed, he showed some skill on the diamond, fielding ground balls with relative ease and making solid contact during batting practice.

“I’m a huge baseball fan,” he told Báez in Spanish. “I played until I was about 16 or 17, at Roberto Clemente Park in Carolina [Puerto Rico]. … I would play the drums and then go play baseball.”

The two also talked about their mutual admiration for Clemente.

“He was a complete player, and that arm he had,” Residente said, to which Báez added, “Three thousand hits.”

Báez then offered a few tips about tagging to Residente, saying he likes to stand in front of the bag rather than straddling it to take a throw from the catcher. Later, the two went to the plate, and after a couple of tweaks from Báez, Residente drove some pitches pretty well. Báez even jumped in and took some swings from the left-hand side, almost hitting one out of Sloan Park.

“Inside the world of baseball, I see you have your own style,” Residente said to Báez. “You enjoy the game and feel it fully.”

Báez, sensing that his friend has his own unorthodox style of music, said that his style of baseball isn’t incorrect, it’s just not the way many coaches teach.

On May 14, Residente released a new music video for his hit song “Antes Que El Mundo Se Acabe,” featuring MLB stars Gary Sánchez and Alex Bregman alongside other stars like Lionel Messi, Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck.

When it was all said and done, Báez conferred with a Cubs coach, and they determined that Residente was around Double-A level, showing promise but needing some refinement.

“I looked like someone who played baseball 20 years ago,” Residente said, smiling. “I feel good with Double-A. … It’s before you get to the big leagues. Almost there. Almost.”