Kyle Schwarber being lost for the season has created a void in left field and removed an option behind the plate for Joe Maddon that he planned on utilizing this year. The plan was for Schwarber to start on most days in left field. Jorge Soler would spell him against left handed starters and when he caught Jason Hammel.
Jorge Soler is expected to see “significantly more starting time at least initially” in left field according to the Sun-Times.
Joe Maddon said Friday that he saw an improved focus from Soler in the spring. Soler put in a lot of time and continues to work hard on his defense with Dave Martinez.
Maddon said, “He’s ready to roll. We’ve been talking to him all spring. He’s gotten enough instruction.” And his skipper has a lot of faith in him. Maddon thinks Soler is “going to be good, maybe it’ll happen sooner now.”
Jed Hoyer joined Bruce Levine and Jordan Bernfield during Saturday’s Inside the Clubhouse. Hoyer talked about Soler and the Cubs options for left field.
“Jorge Soler certainly increases his importance to the team. We know he’s ready. He and Kyle were probably our two best hitters last year in the post-season,” Hoyer said. “We know he can do it. This sort of increases his importance to us.”
“I think we will probably dip into our versatility more. Bryant can play some left. Zobrist can play some left and hopefully we’ll get Javy Baez here soon, back soon and he’ll really allow those guys to move around the diamond. Our versatility and flexibility should help but I think more than anything Soler and Matt Szczur, their jobs just got that much more important.”
“Through adversity comes opportunity for some of our guys,” Hoyer said. “Now with Kyle out there is a little bit of a void and guys have the opportunity to step in and gain some of those at bats.”
According to Mark Gonzales, Dave Martinez told Kris Bryant after Thursday’s game to be ready for anything. Bryant is expected to spend more time in left field. Ben Zobrist is another option Maddon could turn to for left field. And Matt Szczur figures to, at the very least, be a defensive substitution late in games.
Tommy La Stella could see his playing time increase at both second and third which would allow Maddon to use Bryant and Zobrist in left field.
Reports have suggested the Cubs could also use Javier Baez in left field. Due to jamming his thumb in a Cactus League game, he did not get playing time in left or right field in the spring. Baez showed progress defensively in center field. Hoyer seemed to downplay Baez as an option for left field. Instead, Baez would give Maddon another option in the infield to free up Bryant and Zobrist for the outfield.
Maddon also talked about the Cubs having reinforcements in the minors that could be called on if needed. Maddon did not mention any specific players. The Cubs 40-man roster lists only four outfielders (Fowler, Heyward, Soler and Szczur), Arismendy Alcantara and Baez are the other two players on the 40-man with experience in the outfield not currently on the active roster.
The front office, manager, coaching staff and his teammates believe in Soler. Anthony Rizzo said to Comcast SportsNet, “I know George is ready to prove himself.”
Jorge Soler has the talent. Soler has shown he can produce at the highest level. Now it’s time for him to take advantage of the opportunity to get his career back on track and help the Cubs win ballgames.
- Report from the Sun-Times
- Report from ESPN Chicago
- Report from Comcast SportsNet
- Report from the Tribune