The update here isn’t terrible, but it certainly isn’t good, so let’s just rip the bandaid off:
“[Jorge Soler] is on the field, he’s taking [batting practice], he’s seeing a lot of pitches,” Cubs VP of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod told the media this weekend (Cubs.com, ESPN). “We’re just really getting him nutrition, hydration, making sure he’s properly hydrated. So that one might be a little while.”
McLeod is referring to Soler’s activities down in Mesa, Arizona right now, as he rehabs from his third hamstring injury on the year. The latest came on May 15, just a week after he’d returned from the last hamstring injury (to his other hamstring), which itself occurred in his first game after returning from a Spring Training hamstring issue.
At least Soler is seeing a lot of pitches right now. Obviously you can’t quite simulate real game activity, but taking swings and seeing pitches isn’t nothing.
So, what might a timeline for return look like? Honestly, I couldn’t even speculate.
Last time around, Soler injured his hamstring on April 3, and returned to game action (extended Spring Training) about three and a half weeks later on April 28. From there, he was back at AA Tennessee on May 8. Had he been on a similar schedule this time around, Soler would have just returned to game action, and we’d be looking for him to return to Tennessee in a week to ten days. It doesn’t sound like Soler is running yet, and McLeod’s comments don’t make it sound like Soler is particularly close to game action.
In other words, yeah, “that one might be a little while.”
It’s such a shame for Soler, who’s done nothing but play well in the very limited times he’s been healthy since coming to the Cubs in mid-2012. In 2013, Soler missed substantial time with a stress fracture in his leg (which he actually played with for a while). He missed time before that in the defection process, and, at 22, he’s been at such a critical developmental age over the last three/four years. It’s just a really crappy time to miss so many games.
If Soler is able to come back healthy, let’s say, next month, he’ll have just six or seven weeks left in the season in which to get AA games under his belt (presumably after some game activity in rookie ball there in Arizona). Assuming health over that stretch, I wonder if the Cubs will try to get him into a post-season league once again this year to try and make up some lost at bats.
UPDATE: In an interview with Jordan Bernfield, McLeod mentioned that it could be “a couple weeks” or more before Soler is back to Tennessee, but I actually find that phrasing fairly encouraging. Or maybe it’s just because I’d first seen the “might be a little while” phrasing first. I think I’ll still take a conservative approach with my heart, and presume we won’t see him back at Tennessee until July. But, hey, early July wouldn’t be terrible. There are still two months left in the minor league season at that point.