Yesterday, as we anxiously awaited the results of an MRI on his injured left hamstring, Jorge Soler – the player – drifted loosely from our minds (due to the possibility of an Albert Almora Major League call-up).
Word eventually broke that Soler would indeed head to the 15-day disabled list; Almora was called up and eventually made his Major League debut.
Well, now that the dust has settled, let’s redirect our attention back to Soler and length of time he may need to return. On Tuesday, Cubs Manager Joe Maddon addressed reporters (here at the Chicago Tribune and here at CSN Chicago) on Jorge Soler’s return, but was unable to offer anything too concrete. In fact, it remains unclear how long Soler will need to heal.
Obviously, given the nature of the 15-day disabled list, Soler is guaranteed to miss the next two weeks at a minimum, but that seems to be all we know for certain right now. The reason for the ambiguity lies within the nature of the injury and Soler’s history of similar issues. Until the doctors see his progress in the early going, there is just no estimation you can trust, and Maddon doesn’t want to speculate.
Relatedly, despite a spate of injuries already in his career, Maddon doesn’t want anyone labeling Soler injury-prone.
“I refrain from putting labels like that on a player because I’ve seen a lot of these young guys get hurt, and all of a sudden they get older, they don’t get hurt,” Maddon said, per the Tribune. “Let’s get him well and see what happens.”
That said, Maddon knows that hamstring issues tend to be chronic and some players are slightly more predisposed to such injuries. The first (but inherently indefinite) step in correcting those chronic hamstring issues, might simply be to get stronger, or rather, to master the maintenance. Maddon believes Soler will get stronger and will learn how to maintain that strength better as he develops.
Hopefully, once he truly re-establishes himself in the majors after this absence, he’ll stay in the lineup day-after-day, because wow, have you taken a second to appreciate how much better he’s been offensively lately? You may not have noticed it, but since May 18 (53 PAs), Soler has been an absolute beast: .318/.434/.591.
But it’s even more impactful graphically/visually:
FanGraphs' player graphs are freaking awesome. This one, of Jorge Soler's wRC+ moving average this yr, makes me sad. pic.twitter.com/KGQIQEICQL
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) June 7, 2016
And then, of course, there’s the marked improvements he was displaying out in left field, as well:
The catch there is impressive in its own right, but the most encouraging part of that play is Soler’s steady, direct tracking of the fly ball and the timing he displayed on his jump. We already knew he had the physical gifts to make such plays, it was always more about his ability to effectively use those gifts on a day-to-day basis.
But I’ve made you feel bad enough today, so let’s re-focus and wrap things up. Soler will likely be out of commission for a couple of weeks, before slowly ramping things back up. It’s possible, depending on how much time he ultimately winds up missing, that he could make some sort of short rehab stint in the minors, but there’s been no allusion to that just yet. With any luck, he’ll be back at some point before the All-Star break, but that’s left intentionally broad and vague for now.
In the meantime, his replacement, Albert Almora, is getting his first Major League start today. And that’s a nice silver lining.