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The offseason is surprisingly enjoyable for a number of reasons. Hope is an almost free currency. Rumors tickle us at every turn. And the Chicago Cubs remain virtually injury-free.

But the team has reported to camp, and the offseason is over. So, too, is the injury-free ride.

Yesterday, Dale Sveum revealed that catcher Geovany Soto’s practice ended early thanks to a minor groin strain. Sveum said the injury wasn’t serious, but it was enough to keep Soto out of most of yesterday’s exercises.

“It was more [because] you can’t catch without using your groin so we just kind of gave him the day off today,” Sveum said.

Generally, “minor” injuries shouldn’t get fans breathing into a paper bag. But, on the heels of several years of serious injury problems, Cubs fans are understandably on edge. Further, a groin injury – particularly for a catcher – can be a lingering problem of the kind that hampers performance, even if it doesn’t force a guy to sit. Soto missed a few weeks early last season with a groin strain.

Also, the fact that this is coming just days after Soto reported to camp is a reason to be mildly concerned. At least Soto is said to be in excellent shape, which should help his recovery. And, since the injury comes at the beginning of camp, the Cubs can afford to have Soto take it very easy over the next couple weeks, if it comes to that. Soto, himself, says he’s fine, and sitting yesterday was just precautionary.

Ultimately, the minor strain is probably just that – minor.

But God is watching. And so are we.

  • Ryan

    Good way to see what you have in other catchers

  • truebluecubbie

    I would just like them to get rid of Soto. I’ve never been a big fan of him, although I have never hated him either. I would like to see them go with Castillo and Clevenger. It isn’t like we won’t see that a lot this year anyway when Geo is struggling or hurt.

    • Bric

      He’s easily the most over rated and under criticized among the fans IMO. Last summer there was a lot of talk by some fans about how he would get a “metric ton” of prospects if traded. I never saw it, and apparently neither did any of the scouts of the teams in contention because his name never came up publicly as being linked to any trade talk.

      Others have said his service years and contract had a lot to do with that but I just don’t see it. He is who he is- an average to above average defensive catcher with a little power and not much else, which is what the other teams see. This year’s a big one for him if he wants to stay with the Cubs. At least one public drug issue and a history of annoying injuries and now this to start ST don’t bode well for him.

      • DocWimsey

        Other teams see Soto’s excellent rate of drawing walks and the fact that his OPS is very good for a catcher.  At any rate, last year’s trade rumors meant nothing: at the trade deadline, there were no races of which to speak.

        • Bric

          The lack of rumors should mean a lot to him. They should tell him that teams like the Brewers can get to the championship series with a guy like George Kotarus. If there wasn’t any public interest in him last year he’d better step it up now or there will be even less this year. And Castillo is poised to take his job. Just sayin’.

          • DocWimsey

            You almost never see teams make trades in anticipation of post-season: the trades are to get there.  That’s a big reason why not a lot happened last year.  Besides, the Brewers knew that they’d need a 2008 level collapse to miss post-season.  They also knew that the Cubs would charge a fortune for a reasonably young high-OPS catcher with an additional year of contract control, especially within the division.

            Again, this sort of argument is almost a negative evidence argument: under both possibilities, you probably would not have heard anything.

  • oswego chris

    I’m sorry…but baseball players are the biggest wussies in all of sports…I bet every player in the NFL, NHL, or NBA has played with alot worse than what Soto has…I know, I know…why take a chance on injuring it more…blah, blah, blah….

    they are so lucky they have the strongest Union in the history of the universe, and probably in universes a long time ago and far, far away as well….

    minor groin strain? please? this is kind of an uncharateristic rant for me, but I think we need more of a “suck it up” attitude…you are the catcher, a leader…

    if it’s a bad injury I apologize…

    • http://dailybigten.com DBT

      Suck it up and do what exactly? Was there a game yesterday that I missed? Are the Cubs in a pennant race?

    • WGNstatic

      Really??

      Ever read a list of the NFL players sitting out a day of practice, especially during the preseason?

      This time of year, in any sport, you would much prefer your starters be healthy than “sucking it up”. Sucking it up in February leads to a few weeks on the DL in August.

  • brittney

    This will give us an even deeper look at clevenger and castillo. I hope castillo pulls a spring training like colvin did a few years ago. I’ve never been so excited for a season even though this year is a sure shot of being the late season spoilers. I love the youth and having the chance to watch this team evolve into a possible contender in a few years!

  • hogie

    I’ll be rooting for Clevenger! He seems to have a good baseball mind, has done nothing but hit at every level, and from all reports is moving very quickly with defense and game calling for being recently converted. I think he flies under the radar, and I Castillo is overrated. He has had lots of passed balls, a bat similar to Soto’s, and if it weren’t for his arm, he would be average at best defensively.

  • TongueInCheek

    Brett: Does God really take any notice of baseball? I hope it is involved with more important things.

    • MichiganGoat

      but on Sunday when he rest he sends injuries to Cub players.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Your name is the answer to your own question.

    • WGNstatic

      umm…. more important than Cubs baseball?

  • Ron Swanson

    I’m telling you, watch Clevenger. He is the catcher of the future.

  • ty

    In defense of Geo he does not get much of a chance to cruise into S.T. like others. All the big dogs want to start their first sessions with him so his days are long and sweaty from the get go. One of the good guys to fans about autographs and talking to them. Clevenger is a favorite of mine-an over-achiever -with a pretty good bat. As I have said before Castillo is coming on but passed balls has always been a problem–can not count the times in a game tense situation He will allow a ball to hit him in the foot or gear and it bounces away for an inning killer with runners on. Almost an attention deficit moment. But he will make the bigs. Michael Brenly is huge and mostly a defensive guy. He has had half seasons with good offensive numbers but can not sustain. Still a prospect and dad is a good tutor. Appreciate B.N.

  • Jay Anderson Jr

    It funny how people are always ragging all our players, and yet they claim to be Cubs fans. All I here people saying is Barney is not good enough. I hate Zambrano. Soriano is over paid. Campana can’t hit enough. And now Soto is overrated. Soto is a top 10 catcher easily, what ever happened to rooting for your players. People get mad when you talk trash about a sorry ass pitcher(Volstad) we just traded for, but can’t even cheer for our established players. Pitiful.

    • TC

      Just because I have two eyes in my head and can see the many faults with the players on this team does not mean I’m not a huge fan of this team. Barney *isn’t* good enough, but he’s decent in rebuilding years. Campana *cannot* hit enough, plain and simple, and his arm is a joke. Soto is probably better than most people think.

      It’s completely warranted to talk trash about established players when they’re just not very good at playing baseball. Fandom is wanting to see the team win, and that what I want. This team is not a winner, and the players on this team are mostly pretty bad. Saying that doesn’t make me less of a fan, it just shows that I’m not blind.

      I’m a fan of the team, but not necessarily all of the players on it.

    • ferrets_bueller

      Thats absurd.

      Its about being realistic, and not blinded by the fact that this guy is ‘a cub.’ Put down the homerism…

      Zambrano? The dude is Milton light!
      Campana and barney? Their ceiling is as utility players.

      Volstad? His ceiling is a number 2 starter.

      There is a difference between ‘not cheering’ for someone, and wanting the team to actually be…..good. You cheer for everyone, but you push for sub-par players (barney, campana…) to be replaced.

      • Jay Anderson Jr

        Volstad ceiling as a #2 starter, hilarious. More like #5 starter on a bad team, minor league filler on a team like the Phillies. I hope I’m wrong, but apparently Sveum agrees with me.

        All I’m saying is people down our “trash”, Barney, Campana, Soto, Soriano, but are excited to see everybody else’s trash, Stewart, Dejesus, Volstad. My point is trash is trash. But if I can’t choose for them all to succeed, then I would rather see the established Cubs succeed because I have invested rooting interest. IMO, the Soto has had more, and Campana and Barney just as much, success as Volstad. Volstad has a little potential, but when you are in your 4 season, and all they can say about you is that you have potential, it really means you suck.

        • ferrets_bueller

          I’m sorry, but you really need to start doing more than just looking at stats when evaluating players who dont play for the Cubs.

          David DeJesus? Trash?! what. in. the hell. are you smoking?

          Our old ‘trash’ (barney, campana) is playing at near its ceiling. Stewart and Volstad are playing near their floor.
          Volstad is a 25 year old former st round pick who still has the same stuff and size as when he was drafted. His potential is still as a TOTR guy.

          Let me guess, 5 years ago, you thought Ryan Dempster was trash?

          • Jay Anderson Jr

            In other words, I wasn’t calling anyone trash. I was using the label that everybody else uses, that’s why the quotations were used.

            I loved the Dejesus signing. I love the Stewart trade. I hated the Volstad trade. I think Barney is an average 2nd baseman, and I think Campana will be an above average to good leadoff guy, who will improve his OBP, though his lack off arm strength does concern me.

            Soto, who the convo is about, is a really good catcher overall. I don’t understand why people are so quick to push him out of town. There is no way to prove Clevenger or Castillo will be better, so unless I get a haul, I wouldn’t trade him. And as long as he is here, he is my starter. The fact that he is a true cub, who I have invested a lot of emotion in, only makes my feelings stronger.

          • Jay Anderson Jr

            Dejesus is coming off of a down year, however.

    • Bric

      I love the Cubs and have been waiting almost 40 years to see them in the world series. I do not consider Soto a 10 ten catcher mainly because of my own personal expectations. I would say the 8 catchers that made it to the playoffs last year are above him simply based on their teams’ performance.

      Baseball is a team sport and the teams that succeed do so because they play like a team. You can spend hundreds of millions of dollars building a team of talented individuals that hit some dingers, makes some fantastic plays, and sell tickets. But that doesn’t mean they’re a winning team. I’m pretty much over the lovable loser nametag, as I think most other Cub fans are.

      If I criticize Soto, it’s because of the one drug charge we know of, the weight issues, the injuries, the lack of drive. He seems pretty happy to get his pay check, stay under the radar, and enjoy himself. That’s fine if you disagree, but when you just blindly start bowing down to the players simply because they’re on your team you start sounding like the Brewers fans of the last couple of days.

      • DocWimsey

        “You can spend hundreds of millions of dollars building a team of talented individuals that hit some dingers, makes some fantastic plays, and sell tickets.”

        Actually, it usually does, or at least it does if their is pitching.  Teams that get more total bases & walks than they allow are winning teams.  In particular, winning teams hit more HR than they allow, hit more doubles+triples than they allow, and draw more walks than they allow.  (They usually allow a few more singles than they hit.)  All 8 playoff teams (plus the near-miss teams) showed this trait last year.

        To this end, any of the playoff teams from last year would (probably) improve their lot with a high OPS catcher like Soto is able to be.  Indeed, the single dumbest thing that GMs do in the off-season is assume that because this team made it to post-season last year, we don’t need to upgrade weak positions: and Soto would be an upgrade for at least 4 of those teams.

        • Bric

          Other than Avila (who’s a much better defensive catcher) and Kotarus, I’m not sure who you mean. Molina? Martin? Those would be my only two guesses. And i think Martin’s probably better devensively, too. in any case, I get it- you think Soto is a much better catcher than I think.

          The point is moot. If Soto lives up to his hot one year, cold the next history, then he’ll have a good year. If not, he’s probably going to go away after this season. Either way, by your own admission, the teams in contention at the trade deadline will be looking for more pitching, not more catching so he’s playing uphill. And his history of issues doesn’t help him any because Hendry’s not running the show anymore. Epstein’s only keeping winners.

          • DocWimsey

            Avila actually can hit.  Soto probably would be an upgrade for the Brewers, Yanks (sorry, Martin is not that good at anything) and Rays (they kept waiting for Jabo to come around last year and they seem to be going with one of the old Molinas).  I blanked on Montero on the DBacks: that’s not a big upgrade.

            As for Soto and Epstein, think of what Epstein considers a “winner”: guys with good slugging and good ability to walk who can play “skill” positions adequately.  Epstein built the Sox on guys like Soto, so do not expect him to trade Gio.  Indeed, a guy like Hendry was much more apt to trade Gio: Hendry never did quite see drawing walks as a useful talent.

            • Bric

              I have a good memory of Martin almost single handedly (along with Byrd) ending the AL’s domination of the all star game so maybe I think more highly of him than most. But with that line up he’s not expected to hit, just call a good game and play good D (which he does).

              Again, I get it, you think more highly of Soto than me. But if Castillo progresses, the Cubs don’t do much win-wise, and Soto doesn’t show more of an “us, not me” attitude, I think he’s probably gone after the season. Under Hendry his only competition was Koyie Hill. Really? Not anymore.

              • DocWimsey

                Martin has been in 2 All Star games, going 1-3 in 2008 (a 15 inning NL loss) and 0-3 in 2007 (a regular NL loss).  He has not been a good player since 2008 and he has not been to the All Star game since.  So, your memory is off!

                The game that Byrd helped win was in 2010, but Martin had been pretty bad for nearly 2 years at that point (he tailed off badly in 2008) and was not on the team.

                Over the last 3 years, Martin has been much less productive than Geo.  Every year, he shows up in great shape, with an “improved attitude” and “a better personal life” (i.e., a new girlfriend who really will be The One) and every year it’s an OPS around 0.70.  Martin really has been a major disappointment given how well he started.

                And, yes, I value players who can draw walks and slug.  I value attitude, determination, etc., in the same way that I value Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and Elvis, and I trust fans perceptions of those values as much as I trust reports of those three things.

                • Bric

                  I recall the ’08 game when Martin played outstanding defense, threw out a runner and had a great play at the plate. Then whoever replaced him (I can’t remember) allowed the winning run on a sac fly play at the plate. I also recall Byrd’s catch in right field and an important hit (I think it was a bloop down the right field line) Yes my memory is very bad because I thought they were the same game but were actually two years apart. Since they were all close losses they just run together in my memory. As far as Soto, I agree to disagree.

                  • DocWimsey

                    McCann was the catcher, and he didn’t “allow” the run: he almost got the runner on a great swipe tag after the throw (by Hart, if I recall) was up the first base line.  The real star of the game was Morneau: he either got the SF or scored the run, I forget which.  (He gets more credit if it was the latter, as the runner made a nice hook slide to the outside of the plate to avoid McCann’s dive.)  Morneau also keyed one the AL’s rallies.

                    Martin might have thrown out a runner, but I have no recollection of that.  If he did, then it’s 50+%  credit to the pitcher (whoever it was).

                    At any rate, Martin has been a less valuable catcher than Soto (and a lot of other guys) for a while now: there’s a reason why the Dodgers just let him walk.

  • Swaz46

    The reason all this info on Soto (groin strain, whether he’s in shape or not) is because he’s got the potential to be something the Cubs have very little of right now: a desirable commodity. The Cubs don’t have very many guys other teams might be willing to make a deal for, Matt Garza notwithstanding. Geo having a good year means possibly turning him into a couple of decent prospects to help continue to lay the foundation for sustained success. If he’s hurt or bad, he’s not desirable anymore.

    • die hard

      He is trade material once he heals. Sounds like he overworked legs and core during the winter to strengthen without doing similar work to stretch out also. Spring training stretching probably exposed this problem. Baseball players need to stretch more than lift weights. Satchel Paige never lifted a weight and played til 60. I doubt if Randy Hundley, Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, Gary Carter or other great catchers did so either. The Cubs trainer will be busy with these new injuries and to rehab all of the past injured players picked up over the winter. This injury report is likely to be the first of many.

      • Jay Anderson Jr

        Why are we developing trade candidates, and not baseball players for our teams, we are not the Rays.

  • Big Joe

    I believe Soto hasn’t lived up to the fan’s expectations. That doesn’t mean he isnt a good player. I thought he was over-hyped early. He has fallen in line with about I expected. It’s not enough for me. He’s decent. He’s an everyday player. But, he’s not ever going to be elite. Few guys ever are. For the Cubs, he’s enough at the moment. But, if you’re thinking of the future, he’s not THAT guy. That’s my take.

  • Tom Delfs

    Thank you for today’s truth: “It was more [because] you can’t catch without using your groin so we just kind of gave him the day off today,” Sveum said.

    I get the feeling that Dale Sveum quotes are going to be “Today’s Truth” a lot!

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