Well, bad news, friends: Jorge Soler is indeed headed to the disabled list
The ankle injury that Soler played through on Monday night before missing last night’s game was a sprain, and he’s going to the disabled list after an MRI and an evaluation in Chicago. The full extent of his injury is not yet available.
Soler is being replaced in the lineup, for now, by Junior Lake, and his spot on the roster has been replaced by outfielder/first baseman Mike Baxter, who was called back up today.
Strictly speaking, I doubt Mike Baxter actually went anywhere – we’ll find out in a couple hours when we see if he’s available off of the Cubs’ bench – but the Cubs replaced Soler on the roster technically by recalling Baxter from Iowa. When Soler was first hurt on Monday, the Cubs responded by calling up Matt Szczur and optioning Baxter to Iowa on Tuesday. Given that the Cubs were facing a lefty yesterday, it was probably just a question of which guy they’d rather have for last night’s game, knowing that if Soler went on the DL by today, they’d just have both up. (Although normally a player cannot be re-called for 15 days after he’s optioned to the minors, there’s an exception if the player he’s replacing is going to the disabled list.)
So, that’s what’s happened, and the Cubs’ offense and bench are further stretched. Hopefully we’ll soon learn that Soler’s ankle injury isn’t serious, but the Cubs knew it would take more than a few days to heal. The lack of starting-caliber outfield depth was one of my biggest concerns coming into the season, and the relative fragility of the three starting outfielders was a primary reason.
It wasn’t Soler’s hamstring that gave out, thank goodness, and we’ll see if he can be back soon.
In the interim, Lake gets a chance to shine. Also: let the speculation begin about Javier Baez’s rapid move to third base at AAA Iowa, and whether he’ll be up with the big club in a few days playing there, with Kris Bryant playing in the outfield. If Bryant could manage right field, then the net to the Cubs would be a defensive upgrade or at least push (Soler has been only so-so in right, and Baez, in theory, could be at least as good as Bryant at third), and an offensive swap of Soler and Baez. It might not hurt too badly, actually.