Jorge Soler could be a huge piece to a successful Cubs team in 2015. But he’s going to need to stay healthy.
The big, young outfielder was a late-season call-up to Chicago last year, and came on to the scene with a bang. Soler hit a home run in his first at-bat, and slashed .292/.330/.573 in 24 games.
But before that success, Soler struggled to stay healthy as he battled hamstring injuries. In 2013, he suffered a stress fracture in his left tibia.
This spring, the Cubs will likely take it easy with Soler, writes Patrick Mooney. “Don’t beat him up early and permit him to get his legs underneath him – literally – and then play it from there. I think if we do that, we should not anticipate any other problems,” manager Joe Maddon said on Sunday.
Last year after being called up to the Cubs, Soler was gives scheduled days off to help him stay healthy. Hopefully the Cubs have identified a solution that will keep him in the lineup regularly, and away from the disabled list.
What to do with Travis Wood
LHP Travis Wood may seem like a likely trade candidate, but so far this winter/spring, he has heard nothing from the Cubs on the subject, according to Gordon Wittenmyer.
“I mean, if I get traded, I get traded,” Wood said.
After a rough 2014, Wood faces some competition for a spot in the rotation. With Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel and (I’m thinking ) Kyle Hendricks, Wood would be battling Edwin Jackson, Tsuyoshi Wada, Felix Doubront and Jacob Turner.
Wittenmyer said the Cubs have had talks with multiple teams about moving Wood throughout the winter. He will be a free agent after the 2016 season.
My gut feeling is that Wood is traded this year, possibly packaged along with catcher Welington Castillo.
* Not surprisingly, Hector Rondon will be the Cubs closer this year. Although, manager Joe Maddon believes in using the right reliver in certain situations, according to Mark Gonzales. Rondon was great last year for the Cubs, posting 29 saves and a 2.42 ERA (2.26 FIP), with 63 strikeouts and only 15 walks in 63.1 innings. The Cubs have some backup closer options in case Rondon falters at all this year, with Pedro Strop, Neil Ramirez and recently acquired Jason Motte.
* LHP Tsuyoshi Wada is dealing with some hamstring soreness and didn’t throw yesterday, according to Carrie Muskat. Not sure how serious the injury is yet, so we’ll keep an eye on it. Obviously still very early in the spring, but an extended injury could hurt Wada’s chances for grabbing a rotation spot.
* We know Joe Maddon likes to tinker with lineups and make some interesting combinations. For example, he has been known to bat the pitcher eighth in the order. But as he told Jesse Rogers this weekend, the pitcher’s hitting talents aren’t necessarily the determining factor for that lineup decision. “If you have a pitcher that you believe is going to go deep into the game you normally want him ninth to delay the decision to pinch hit for him,” Maddon said. “If you have a pitcher that has a history of going five, possibly six innings, you may want to hit him eighth, possibly to pinch hit for him sooner rather than later.” Thought this was interesting — I hadn’t thought about it like that before.
* And for my fellow grammar nerds, you have to appreciate this (I know I do — immenseLY):
Maddon says he likes Miguel Montero because he uses a lot of adverbs, incluing the "ly" at the end. "He's an 'ly' guy," Joe said. #Cubs
— Bruce Miles (@BruceMiles2112) February 22, 2015