Jorge Soler continues to impress the Chicago Cubs and its fans. He has put in the work to show that he’s not just hype – he’s the real deal. The concern that surround Soler this season are the same that have troubled him while in the minors – injuries and durability. To eliminate those concerns – Soler bulked up and added 27 pounds of muscle over the winter. The young outfielder believes this addition will help increase his durability and help him play most – if not all of the season.
Soler told the Chicago Tribune what his expectations are. “I think I can play 162 (games), I’m ready for that.” While we would all love to see that – I think we would be happy with something close to that. Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon echoed those same thoughts. He told the Chicago Tribune that “a more realistic goal would be 130 to 140 games”. I think we could all live with that amount – considering that there are other options to allow for days off.
"“I’m curious because I have ideas, but I’ve got to see it and feel it,” Maddon said. “Because a guy is (23) doesn’t mean he doesn’t need a day off.” – Joe Maddon via Chicago Tribune"
The injuries that limited Soler to play in only 86 games are said to be gone and that he is healthier and more flexible after off-season workouts. With all of the expectations that surround him – I’m sure the Cubs will still be cautious at first with the amount of playing time they give him. Considering the organization has shown a lot of patience – and rightfully so – there is no reason to overwork the rookie.
With the added weight – expect to see a lot more power and home runs. Hopefully the extra size won’t have a negative effect on his speed. It would be nice to see him be a threat on the base paths as well. Not that I’d expect 20-30 steals – but 10-15 swipes would be nice to keep the pitcher’s and catcher’s on their toes knowing there is that ability to get into scoring position.
While it will be hard to really gauge what Maddon has right now with Soler and his newly added muscle – he will hold his opinions until he sees some game action from his right fielder. “So with the weight, he’s a big kid. I’m sure he’ll lose some of that during the course of this camp and into this season. I’m not concerned. He’s a big-framed kid and strong. I’ll have a better opinion once I see him in a game.”
It sounds like Maddon is ready to let his Soler’s play to do the talking for him.