CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum downplayed star prospect Jorge Soler's latest incident, which put him back in the headlines at Class-A Daytona. Soler didn’t hustle on two hit balls in a game on Saturday against Lakeland and was subsequently benched for Sunday’s contest.
“Not everybody is going to run every single ball out at 100 percent,” Sveum said before the Cubs took on the San Diego Padres Monday night. “That’s just part of the game but you get a grip on it and hold people accountable and move on.”
Soler signed a nine-year, $30-million contract last season and was noticeable in spring training for his power and patience at the plate. But this is his second time making negative headlines at Daytona in just the first month of the season. He ran towards an opposing dugout with a bat in his hand during a game earlier this month but was stopped by teammates before causing any damage to anyone or anything. He was suspended five games for the incident.
“We have 125 minor league players, I’m sure he’s not the only player to not run a ball out,” Sveum said. “These things get escalated because of who he is and what just happened a few weeks ago too.
“You say something, get a grip on it and then you don’t see it again. You let people know they’re held accountable for everything, and everybody is the same no matter how much money you make or what.”
Cubs president Theo Epstein concurred that Soler isn't alone when it comes to the transgression -- or the the penalty.
"Our managers are encouraged to bench players who are giving less than 100 percent effort -- whether that's failure to hustle down the first base line or failure to properly prepare for a game," Epstein said. "It's our responsibility to make sure every player in the organization demonstrates preparation, hustle and effort every day with no exceptions. Playing time is still the best way to get a player's attention. These actions are intended to remain in-house. Many players have been benched for this reason already this year and have responded immediately with proper effort. Soler is not alone, and, in fact, he has shown a real interest in learning to play the game the right way."
Soler is hitting .276 with two home runs and seven RBIs in 15 games this season.
“You don’t let it fester, you take care of it, otherwise you lose the players that are busting their butts, too,” Sveum said.
Sveum raved about Triple-A outfielder Brian Bogusevic. Bogusevic leads the Pacific Coast League with a .417 batting average and a .506 on-base percentage. He’s a converted pitcher who also led the Cubs in hitting this spring.
“To me Bogusevic is still learning,” Sveum said. “He never got to develop as a hitter. That’s one heck of an athlete, a body with power. That guy is a baseball player. He loves to play baseball. He still needs to develop and do some things. There’s something there.”
Sveum said a recall of Bogusevic would happen on a “need” basis.
The Cubs' top draft choice in 2011, Javier Baez, won Florida State League player of the week after hitting .435 with two home runs and six RBIs.
Second base prospect Logan Watkins has just a .250 batting average at Triple-A Iowa but a .412 on-base percentage. He has 21 walks in 21 games and almost as many free passes as strikeouts (25).
Sveum confirmed a tweet from 2012 first-round pick Albert Almora that he’s back playing after recovering from surgery on his wrist. He played a rehab game in Mesa, Ariz.
“I know (he) was close,” Sveum said. “Those twits (tweets) never lie.”