Cubs’ Maddon, Epstein continue to back struggling Soler

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Jorge Soler reacts after striking out against the San Diego Padres during the sixth inning during game two of a double header at Wrigley Field. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

When considered strictly by the numbers, there hasn’t been much not to like about the Cubs this season.

Heading into this weekend’s series with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field, the Cubs have a winning percentage of .758 despite coming off their first two-game losing streak of the season.

So in the midst of all the positives, the not-to-great statistical superlatives tend to stick out like a sore thumb. Enter struggling outfielder Jorge Soler, who it hitting .175 with two home runs, six RBI and 23 strikeouts in 80 plate appearances.

Despite the numbers, manager Joe Maddon refuses to be overly concerned with Soler, who was plugged into the No. 6 spot in the lineup for Friday’s game.

“When a guy has a tough day, I don’t get really carried away in a negative way,” Maddon said before Friday’s game. “It’s part of development.”

Maddon stuck with Soler on Wednesday, when the Cubs dropped both games of a doubleheader against the Padres. Rather than inserting Addison Russell in the eighth inning and the bases loaded and the Cubs trailing 1-0, Maddon allowed Soler to hit despite the fact he had already struck out three times. Soler struck out again as questions of his struggles at the plate continued to mount.

On Friday, both Maddon and Cubs President Theo Epstein were adamant in their support for Soler. Maddon said injuries have caused Soler’s development to be “spotty” and that Soler – despite his issues of late – has shown flashes of brilliance.”

“When you’re attempting to develop young players, there’s a lot of patience involved,” Maddon said. “…I have a lot of faith in this kid. I think he’s going to be really good.

Like Maddon, Epstein pointed to Soler’s performance in the playoffs last season when he hit .474 with three home runs and five RBI in 19 postseason at-bats. Although his offensive success has yet to carry over to the start of this season, Epstein believes Soler in time will come around.

“(Reporters) are asking Joe, ‘What do you need to see from him so you don’t give up on him – that’s absurd,” Epstein said Friday. “If we had walked away from him last year, we probably don’t get out of the Cardinals series. He played a primary role in helping us win a couple of those games.

“That’s how good he’s capable of being and you need to invest im him to get to that level.”

Notes:Maddon expects catcher Miguel Montero to return from the disabled list “any day” and said is “ready to roll.” …Pitcher Zac Rosscup underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery for debridement and won’t pick up a baseball for three months…RHP Andury Acevedo tore the ACL in his left knee. He had reconstructive surgery and is out for the year.

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