SAN FRANCISCO -- We’ve been here before with Chicago Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler. An injury or matchup in his favor opens the door for another series of opportunities. This time, it’s an ailment to right fielder Jason Heyward, which figures to lead to Soler's being in the lineup consistently for a few more days.
Soler was getting his playing time already, but Maddon will now be less picky. Soler is in for now, especially after he came up with one of his better all-around games on Friday, after Heyward left with a rib contusion. Soler followed that with another good game Saturday.
“I want to keep doing what I’m doing,” Soler said through interpreter Henry Blanco before getting on base twice Saturday. “Play the game the right way.”
Soler has said similar things before, but to be fair, it isn't always easy to dive deep into the psyche of the 24-year-old from Cuba. He is the only Cubs player who needs an interpreter, so interviews aren’t always smooth, but Soler admitted that he wasn’t focused last season.
Maddon was thrilled with Soler's concentration Friday, when he played great defense, ran the bases well and hit a home run.
“It’s nice to see Jorge play a complete game because that’s what we’re looking for from all of our guys,” Maddon said after that game. “We just don’t want hitters. We want guys that will play a complete game. I was really, really pleased to see that for him and for us.”
It sounds like Soler gets it, but then again, we’ve heard some of this rhetoric before.
“I understand the message,” he said. “I’m going to work hard and give everything I have on the field. I understand it’s not just about hitting.”
That’s music to Maddon’s ears. The manager was clear that he wasn’t as impressed with the home run as he was with the rest of Soler’s game Friday. Maddon wants winning baseball players, and his left fielder isn’t quite there, as the other youngsters on the Cubs are, but maybe Soler is closing in. Friday and Saturday were more than good starts -- they were great ones.
“It was one of the best games I’ve had,” Soler said of Friday. “Looking forward to more of those.”
“I just want to go out there and do everything I can and try to have a good game.”