CLEVELAND – For those who might have missed it, Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler skipped the ski mask and extra layers when he started in right field on a 43-degree night the last game of this World Series played at Progressive Field.
Credit Kyle Schwarber with another shocker for the Cubs.
“Schwarber showed me how to do it,” said Soler, historically the most temperature sensitive player on the Cubs’ roster – who has a sub-.200 career average in sub-50-degree temps.
As the Cubs and Indians play the first World Series game in November in 15 years Tuesday night, the temperatures in Cleveland are expected to be unseasonably warm. But if that changes with a sudden north-wind blast, Soler said he’s ready.
“It doesn’t bother me anymore,” said Soler, who was 0-for-2 with a walk in the Cubs’ frigid Game 2 victory. “It bothered me in the past, but this year I prepared myself mentally to not let it bother me.”
That’s thanks to Schwarber, the Ohio native, who taught him how to trick his mind against the cold, Soler said.
“I just tell myself that it’s not cold, even though it is,” Soler said in Spanish, through team translator Mateo Moreno. “It affected me before because I knew it was cold, but I’m trying to block that out in my head now.”
Soler, who has a career .169 average in sub-50 temps, improved slightly to 3-for-15 (.200) with six walks (.429 on-base percentage) this year.
Schwarber made an impression even before saying anything, Soler said: “He doesn’t feel that cold. He plays in short-sleeve shirts. He knows how to handle it.”
All hands on deck
Manager Joe Maddon said Jon Lester is in play for a relief appearance if needed to help survive or close out the series after pitching just six innings Sunday night in Game 5.
“There’s a lot of subplots going on,” said Maddon, who suggested he might hold Lester’s personal catcher David Ross back from pinch-hitting duties until knowing whether he might use Lester.
Maddon also said Aroldis Chapman could be available out of the bullpen – possibly for more than an inning – as soon as Tuesday, just two nights after throwing 42 pitches in a career-high 2 2/3 innings.
“I’ll talk to him [before Tuesday’s game],” Maddon said. “He’s a pretty strong guy. Beyond that, I don’t think we’ve overused him to this point, just talking about the latter part of the season and the playoffs.
“I’ll definitely listen to what he has to say. I’m betting that he would probably think that he would be good for two innings, I would imagine, [Tuesday]. But if not, we’ll take what he can give us and then work forward from there.”