One key piece of the Cubs lineup was back. Another got a much-needed day off.
Before Sunday’s 2-0 win over Miami, the Cubs activated Jorge Soler from the 15-day disabled list and optioned Matt Szczur to Iowa. Hitting sixth and playing right field, Soler had been on the DL since suffering a sprained left ankle June 1.
“It lengthens out the lineup,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Of course, you don’t have (Anthony Rizzo) in there today but everybody’s out there now and you get all the guys cooking a little bit better. It makes a difference.
“I always, whenever the lineup is sent over, you look at it, you look at where you perceive to be the holes or the soft spots maybe you can do something there planning-wise,” he added. “But when you get Soler back it really makes the whole thing thicker.”
As Maddon mentioned, Rizzo is not starting, with Mike Baxter playing first base and hitting seventh. Two days ago, Maddon seemed to dismiss the possibility of Rizzo getting a breather like Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Starlin Castro have recently.
One factor for the change of heart was how often Rizzo’s been hit by pitches, a total that got to 17 on Saturday night. With that and Tuesday’s doubleheader approaching, Maddon said it felt like the right thing to do Sunday.
“That’s part of today’s day off, is the ball-peening that’s occurred during the course of the first half. 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 also and the fact he doesn’t wear any armor.
“I think he’s a little beat-up.”
Rizzo had played in all 79 games.
Soler was 0 for 3.