Cubs back Class A manager on Soler benching
Cubs bosses Monday backed the manager of the organization's Class A Daytona farm club for benching outfield phenom Jorge Soler one game for failing to hustle.
Daytona manager Dave Keller benched Soler Sunday after Soler failed to run hard after hitting a pair of balls Saturday.
"When you don't do that, then you don't get to play," Keller told the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Through a spokesman, Cubs president Theo Epstein had this to say: "Our managers are encouraged to bench players who are giving less than 100 percent effort — whether that's failure to hustle down the first-base line or failure to properly prepare for a game.
"It's our responsibility to make sure every player in the organization demonstrates preparation, hustle and effort every day with no exceptions … Soler is not alone, and, in fact, he has shown a real interest in learning to play the game the right way."
Soler, who signed a nine-year, $30 million contract last June, was suspended five games earlier this month by the Florida State League for a bat-wielding incident during a game.
"We have about 125 minor-league players," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "I'm sure he's not the only one that hasn't run a ball out. These things get a little escalated because who he is and what just happened a few weeks ago, too."
The Cubs expressed support for NBA player Jason Collins, who came out as gay.
"I think it's kind of a benign thing," second baseman Darwin Barney said. "Everybody is connected (to a gay person) in some way, whether it's a family member.
"I have family members that are (gay). I don't think it's that big of a deal. I think he'll be protected just fine. I hope the best for him."
Added manager Dale Sveum: "I think everybody is entitled to what they do in their life. I don't think it changes anything. It might help a lot of other people."
Reliever Kyuji Fujikawa threw from the bullpen Monday. Dale Sveum said Fujikawa is fine but that his stuff wasn't "crisp." He likely will throw a bullpen Thursday before going on a rehab assignment Sunday at Class AAA Iowa. Fujikawa is recovering from a right-forearm strain.
Scott Baker, who has not pitched since spring training, has started a throwing program in Arizona. He played catch from 45 feet Monday. He's on the mend from last April's Tommy John surgery.
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