ST. LOUIS – There will be buzz for Jorge Soler’s Wrigley Field debut. The $30 million Cuban outfielder did his part, living up to the hype with a red-hot start.
The Cubs get a Labor Day crowd and a Milwaukee Brewers team fighting to stay in first place, plus the Jackie Robinson West All-Stars singing the seventh-inning stretch. It’s the business/baseball dream inside the Clark Street headquarters.
The Cubs sat Soler on Sunday at Busch Stadium, part of the program that gives him scheduled days off after recovering from a series of hamstring injuries.
“I’m ready every day,” Soler said through translator/coach Franklin Font. “I’ll be ready every day. I don’t control the lineup, but it’s hard when you’re ready and you don’t see your name in the lineup. But I’m ready every single day.”
[RELATED: Soler bringing thunder to Cubs-Cards rivalry]
Soler said he won’t be taking aim at Waveland Avenue, but the ballhawks will be ready anyway. Soler had a big smile on his face after a reporter mentioned where Javier Baez drove his first two home runs at Wrigley Field.
Since 1900, only three players have hit three homers in their first three big-league games: Baez, Soler and Joe Cunningham, who did it with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1954.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Soler is now the first player to have an RBI and an extra-base hit in his first four major-league games since the RBI became an official statistic in 1920.
“They have some studs,” Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller told reporters after watching the Cubs blast four homers – Soler had two bombs – in Friday night’s win at Busch Stadium.
Soler has heard from White Sox slugger Jose Abreu – a Cuban star who made a quick transition – as well as Manny Ramirez, the player/coach/lightning rod sent to Triple-A Iowa to work with the organization’s best young hitters.
“I learned a lot from Manny,” Soler said. “He’s always talking with me about hitting, about personality stuff, what I’m doing on the field, off the field. Again, he’s a tremendous person.
“I always tried to be around him to get the most I can from him.
“He’s so happy about my (start). He texted me, he called me and he said: ‘I’m real happy you’re doing well. I know you can do that. I know you can do it better. Keep doing it.’”
Last year in spring training, Soler was asked through an interpreter if he knew about the organization’s history of can’t-miss prospects like Felix Pie. The conversation has changed now, with Soler making the leap after only 151 games in the minors.
“Everybody’s excited about all these guys now,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I’m sure there will be some enthusiasm and obviously some desire to want to see him. They’ve been talked about a lot. People have been waiting anxiously to see a part of the future, and rightfully so, because these guys are pretty exciting players. We’re seeing it firsthand now.”