“Since I signed as a pro, I’ve been waiting for this moment and I’m ready for it,” Soler said through an interpreter Monday morning. “I don’t know how the crowd will react, but I expect the way I‘ve been going, the crowd will be good on me.”
Past players to play right field have had a special relationship with fans going back to Andre Dawson in the 90’s and Sammy Sosa into the next decade. If Soler's start to his season is any indication what the bleacher faithful are getting, he’ll be a favorite pretty quickly.
“I’m just excited for him,” his manager Rick Renteria said. “He’s impacted us in a positive way. It will be fun for fans here in Chicago to put their eyes on him.”
What they’ll see is a freakish athlete who can seemingly do it all on the baseball field. It’s why the Cubs signed him to a nine-year contract in 2012 and why they believed him when he told them earlier this season it was “his time.”
“I stand by it,” Soler said. “I accepted the challenge. I wanted to be the Jorge Soler I’m showing I am right now.”
Three home runs, two doubles and seven RBIs have vaulted him into the spotlight. Now he’ll do it at Wrigley Field for the first time, playing a position that isn’t traditionally the easiest to maneuver.
“The ball in right field likes to come back in fair territory over the stands,” outfield coach Eric Hinske said. “It’s very windy here and of course there’s a brick wall with ivy. Definite variables that we’ll talk about, but I don’t want him to stress or have anxiety about it.”
One thing fans won’t see every day in right field is Soler himself. The Cubs are following a plan they put in place when he finally got healthy after two hamstring injuries took him out of the lineup this past spring. He’ll play a few games and then sit as he did in St. Louis over the weekend. The Cubs don’t expect this will be a chronic issue he’ll deal with during his career, just the rest of this season.
“I don’t think he’s played more than five games in a row,” Renteria said. “That’s the table we’ve been using and will continue to use. Physically he’s fine.”
His numbers say he’s healthy and in resting him twice against the Cardinals, he’s ready for his home debut.
“I feel 100 percent,” Soler said.