Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano left yesterday’s series opener against the Houston Astros in the first inning yesterday with a strained quad, which he suffered while trying to leg out a grounder.
He had an MRI yesterday, but the results aren’t expected until later today. Even if the results are good and he avoids a DL stint, Soriano’s likely to miss some time. In his absence, Mike Quade plans to go not with any of the handful of outfielders the Cubs have called up in recent days, but instead with the man who, until a week ago, had never played in the outfield: Blake DeWitt.
“It’s unfortunate to see Sori go down like that,” DeWitt said. “I haven’t heard anything, but hopefully he’s all right. He’s a big part of this team. It’s a tough loss today.”
The Cubs have dealt with multiple injuries lately. They placed Jeff Baker on the disabled list earlier Monday, and he joined Reed Johnson (back), Marlon Byrd (face), Andrew Cashner (shoulder) and Matt Garza (elbow) on the DL.
DeWitt, who has never played the outfield in the big leagues until this year, went 3-for-4, including an RBI triple in the third in the Cubs’ 12-7 loss to the Astros. He will get the bulk of playing time unless the Cubs tap into the farm system again.
“I’ll give him a shot,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “I know he slips and falls on the one ball, but he throws the guy out at the plate [in the seventh] and gets three hits. I’d like to keep his bat in the lineup. He’s worked hard in left field. Why not?” cubs.com.
I suspect that the decision to keep DeWitt in the outfield while Soriano is out has less to do with keeping his bat in the lineup and more to do with cultivating DeWitt’s versatility.
It has become increasingly unlikely that DeWitt will have a starting spot longterm with the Cubs. At the same time, he’s still just 25 – the same age as Darwin Barney – so there’s time to mold him into a valuable player. If he’s to have value to the Cubs going forward, it will probably have to be in a utility role. And a guy who can play second, third, short, left and right field is a whole lot more valuable than a guy who can just play second and third. The same guy will have more value to other teams as well.
For once, I am inclined to agree with one of Quade’s non-traditional ideas.