iowa cubs logoI would say that opinions on reliever Rafael Soriano are divisive, but that would be inaccurate. Given his ineffectiveness with the Cubs and the visual lack of strong velocity or impressive stuff, most are probably uninterested in seeing Soriano return to the big league bullpen, at least in any spots that matter.

For my part, I can’t proclaim any excitement at Soriano’s imminent return, though I do choose to leave open the possibility that his previous ineffectiveness was due to the long layoff and then the shoulder inflammation that put him on the disabled list. It is conceivable that Soriano comes back from this DL stint a better pitcher than when he went out for it.

To that end, Soriano has started a rehab assignment at AAA Iowa, where he pitched a perfect inning with one strikeout. He did, however, give up two hard-hit balls and frequently missed his spots badly. There was no gun on the broadcast, though the announced did, at one point, reference an 87mph fastball. Visually, it was not an impressive inning, though it was just one inning, and it looked like he was simply working on his fastball.

With Jason Motte shelved by his own shoulder issue, and with Neil Ramirez still out with a side injury (and no one seems eager to proclaim a return date), the Cubs are going to need pitching depth in September. There will always be innings to be eaten, and it’s possible – however unlikely – Soriano could effectively gobble up some low-leverage middle innings, helping the Cubs come back in a game or maybe hold onto a blowout without having to use a high-leverage arm.

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