<
>

Cubs put Jorge Soler (ankle sprain) on DL

MIAMI -- The Chicago Cubs placed outfielder Jorge Soler on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a left ankle sprain, the team announced before playing the Miami Marlins.

"I'm hearing two to three weeks, like a minimum type of stay," manager Joe Maddon said.

Soler injured himself running to first base on a groundout in Monday's win. He landed awkwardly on the bag but finished the game. Journeyman outfielder Mike Baxter was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to take his place on the roster, but it will be third-year man Junior Lake who could see most of the playing time in right field.

"You'll see him a lot," Maddon said before Wednesday's game. "I thought Baxter was starting to swing the bat better also. I think Junior has earned the right to play a little bit. Junior, based on how he looked in camp and the time here, he's done a nice job."

Lake was 2-for-4 on Tuesday and 1-for-5 with a home run on Wednesday while filling in for Soler. However, he also taunted the Marlins on his home run trot, causing the benches to clear in the 7-3 loss to Miami.

He struck out 110 times while hitting just .211 in 108 games last season and failed to make the Opening Day roster, but has looked like a different, more disciplined hitter this season.

Soler's injury also could open the door for the return of 2011 first-round pick Javier Baez, while potentially moving rookie Kris Bryant to the outfield, at least temporarily. Baez started at third base for the first time in his minor league career at Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday. He's hitting .325 after struggling in the big leagues last season. He struck out 95 times to go along with his 130 at Triple-A.

"We just want to give him this opportunity to learn the position more readily and have that open to us in the future if we chose to do something like that," Maddon said. "There's not kind of a lock into anything."

Baez has been a middle infielder up until this point, but Starlin Castro and rookie Addison Russell currently play short and second for the Cubs at the big league level. Bryant played some outfield in college and started in left field Tuesday night, so it's now possible Baez could be called up to play third while Bryant moves to left or right while Soler is out.

"I'm more than willing to help the team out in any area," Bryant said. "I'd like to think I'm a team player. If that time comes I'd love to see Javy rake at third base. If that time comes where I move to the outfield for a bit, I'm all for it."

Adding another layer to the story are upcoming games this month in American League ballparks where the Cubs need a designated hitter. Maddon said no decisions have been made but admitted a possibility is subtracting a relief pitcher from the roster while adding another hitter. Presumably, that could be Baez. But the Cubs want to see him at third base before any decisions are made.

"Let him play there a little bit and we can evaluate from there," Maddon said. "I hear he's doing a lot better at the plate."