Last night, playing for the Arizona Cubs in the Arizona Rookie League, Jorge Soler summed up his career in the Chicago Cubs’ organization so far: he had a hell of a game at the plate, and then left the game early.
Playing right field for the first time in five days, Soler went 2-2 with a walk. After five innings in the field, Soler left the game. It’s unclear whether it was a scheduled departure, or if it was related to his injured hamstring … or his other injured hamstring … or another injury altogether (but don’t jump to any conclusions). Soler DH’d the day before, after sitting out a couple games, after leaving Sunday’s game early after six innings in the field. (Did you follow that with all the “after”s in there?)
So, it’s possible that this is all scheduled stuff, when you see the pattern repeating like that. We’d wondered for a few days what those missed days earlier in the week were all about, but hopefully it was just part of his rehab program. When Theo Epstein spoke with the media about Soler yesterday, it appears he didn’t mention any re-injuries or new injuries this week. His comments came before last night’s game, but, again, hopefully we’re just seeing Soler’s special rehab program in place.
“We did a full-body assessment,” Epstein told the media (including Tony Andracki at CSN) of the organizational approach to Soler’s health after his second hamstring injury. “We tried to take a real close look in terms of whole body anatomy and biomechanically. We thought maybe there were some ways we could reprogram his posture and muscle distribution on his body – posterior and anterior – to allow him the way his feet work and hit the ground. There are some small adjustments we can make to where it won’t happen again, it won’t become a chronic thing. He’s put in the work to have that happen and we’re just kind of easing him back into full game mode and hope it continues to go well.”
The “easing him back into full game mode” part is comforting, with respect to the sporadic play this week. After all, getting Soler full games in rookie ball is not really the prime directive right now – the Cubs want him to be playing full games against progressively better competition so that his bat can develop. No sense in going completely full bore in rookie ball, I reckon.
Epstein added that, if Soler continues to progress, he’ll be back at AA Tennessee before too long. Amorphous, obviously, but you’d like to see him back by July, so that he can get in two full months, and then possibly pick up some additional game action in the Fall or the Winter. Soler’s been out with the latest hamstring injury since May 15. Given the “reprogramming” the Cubs undertook with him, it’s understandable that this recovery period is taking longer than his previous recoveries. Better to invest that time now than keep running him out there, only to have his hamstrings buckle again because of some chronic issue.
If you want to be ruthlessly optimistic, you hope that Soler is back to Tennessee by early July, plays a couple dominant months there at AA, plays somewhere in the Fall/Winter, dominates, and then starts 2015 at AAA, thus not really falling off of a normal development schedule.
Small sample, sigh-inducing stat line?
In 11 games and 42 plate appearances this year (all while bouncing around with injuries), Soler is hitting .417/.500/.750 with 10 extra-base hits, 6 walks, and just 7 strikeouts. Sigh.