Jorge Soler's return makes Cubs lineup ‘thicker'


Jorge Soler's return comes at a perfect time for the Cubs.

Joe Maddon's squad can use just about any offensive help they can get right now. 

After scoring 17 runs in a 10-game stretch, the Cubs broke out for seven runs Saturday evening, but six of those came on two swings of the bat from Kris Bryant. And after Bryant's second-inning grand slam, Marlins pitchers set down 19 of 20 Cubs hitters to close out the game, with the only baserunner being Anthony Rizzo on a hit-by-pitch.

Soler returned to the lineup Sunday, hitting sixth and playing right field. He has not played since June 1st after being sidelined with an ankle injury.

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Even with Rizzo getting a day off Sunday, Soler's presence gives the Cubs lineup a different look.

"It really lengthens out the lineup," Maddon said before Sunday's game. "Of course, you don't have Rizzo there today, but when everybody's out there now and you get all the guys looking a little bit better, it makes a difference.

"When you get Soler back, it really makes the whole thing thicker."

Soler went just 2-for-13 on his four-game rehab stint with Triple-A Iowa, but Maddon isn't worried about any rust for the 23-year-old slugger.

"He's well, he's healthy," Maddon said. "Offensively, just OK [on his rehab stint in Triple-A], but then again, you never know when a guy shows up, adrenaline starts going, he might see the ball a little bit better. So we'll see."

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Maddon said Rizzo's day off Sunday is related to the number of hit-by-pitches the Cubs first baseman has received this season. After another plunking Saturday, Rizzo has been hit 17 times this season, tying a Cubs modern-day, single-season record.

"It's incredible," Maddon said. "I know he's on the plate and I know they want to pitch him inside and I know all that. It's part of who he is as a hitter and the fact that he doesn't wear any armor. I think he's a little bit beat up.

"I thought this was a good day to do it with a doubleheader on Tuesday leading into the break. Everybody else has pretty much had their time off and he has not. It just seemed like the right thing to do today."

Rizzo has also been slumping at the plate, with just 3 hits in his last 28 at-bats (.107 AVG) that has lowered his season average from .312 to .292.

The day off also allows Rizzo to clear his head for a vital four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals beginning Monday night at Wrigley Field.

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