Jorge Soler on DL, Javy Baez on radar for Cubs

SHARE Jorge Soler on DL, Javy Baez on radar for Cubs

MIAMI – Jorge Soler going on the disabled list Wednesday could be just the start of a ripple effect on the Cubs roster that might include Javy Baez’s return to the big leagues – possibly by next week in Detroit.

One day after Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant made his first career start in left field, Soler was placed on the disabled list with a sprained ankle, and the Cubs had slugging middle infielder Baez make his first pro start at third base for Class AAA Iowa.

“I’m just here to help the team win, and if that’s playing the outfield, that’s where I’ll be,” said Bryant, who also learned Wednesday he was voted the National League’s rookie of the month for May. “If Javy’s swinging a great bat, then we can definitely use him, and I’m willing to play anywhere to help the team win.”

Soler, who injured his left ankle hitting first base awkwardly running out a grounder during Monday’s game in Miami, is expected to miss at least three weeks.

The immediate result is a chance for Junior Lake to earn regular playing time in right field in Soler’s absence. He doubled twice as Tuesday’s right fielder, and bobbled a ball for an error there Wednesday.

The bigger picture involves a path back to the big leagues possibly opening for Baez and a potential infield shuffle that has taken on various forms in discussions among team officials since spring training.

Bryant got a heads-up from the team about Baez playing third at Iowa but was told nothing was imminent or certain beyond that.

“We just want to give him an opportunity to learn the position a little bit and have that be open to us in the future if we chose to do something like that,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Let him play there, see what it looks like, and then we can evaluate him from there.

“With everything we’ve got going on out here, why not open his mind to something else? You never know how it’s going to benefit you as a group or him individually.”

The last time the Cubs did that with an Iowa infielder on their radar, Addison Russell went from shortstop to second base, and was in the majors five games later.

“It’s good to be versatile and get Javy and myself and maybe some other players some work around the diamond,” Bryant said. “We’re all ballplayers. We’re all ready for that.”

Baez – who was hitting .325 at Iowa with a .947 OPS after a two-homer game Tuesday — already was being considered as an added bat for the Cubs when they need a DH next week in Detroit. Maddon said that beyond the numbers, reports on Baez suggest his big swing is more under control, and he’s using it more frequently in the strike zone.

The need for a bat could intensify quickly with Soler out of a lineup that had become stable and productive with the late-April debuts of Bryant and Russell.

The 6-foot-5 Soler is hitting .265 with four homers and enough threat in his bat that his mere presence in the top half of the lineup has to be respected.

“Am I concerned? No,” Maddon said. “Am I curious? Yes.”

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