Chicago Cubs give up on Soler? 'That's absurd'
Jorge Soler started his third straight game for the Chicago Cubs on Friday, but manager Joe Maddon gets asked about his usage of Soler almost every day.
Team president Theo Epstein also fielded questions about Soler before Friday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field.
"(Media) guys are asking Joe, 'What do you need to see so you don't give up on him?' " Epstein said. "That's absurd. If we had walked away from him last year, we probably don't get out of the Cardinals series (National League division series). He and (Kyle) Schwarber were our two best hitters in that 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 in him in order to help him get to that level on a more consistent basis. And you have to win games along the way.
"We have good problems to have deciding which players are going to play on a given day and which ones have to sit. Joe's doing a great job of getting every one of them at-bats."
The 24-year-old Soler has started five of the last six games. In Friday's 9-4 victory, he went 1-for-3.
"I think this is where he belongs," Epstein said. "He's getting at-bats on a pretty consistent basis. There will be ebbs and flows through the season where the matchups dictate where he has to sit a few games in a row. It doesn't mean that Joe or the front office has given up on him. There are going to be other times when he's going to be in there every single day.
"With the younger guys, it's a process of making adjustments. We know that some guys make adjustments more quickly than others. You have to be patient with young players. I think we've been a little spoiled around here because some of our young guys adjusted so quickly."
No lacking in candor:
Theo Epstein said he had no problem with pitcher John Lackey yelling at the San Diego Padres' Christian Bethancourt to run out his home run in Wednesday night's victory over the Cubs.
After the game, Lackey said he had a "long memory" and that Bethancourt "would learn."
Lackey, 37, is an old-school type who doesn't mind saying what he thinks, no matter who likes it.
"I just think he's always true to himself," Epstein said. "That's how he felt. That's what he said. We have his back. He is who he is, and we're never going to ask him to change.
"We love the way he approaches it. He's fiercely competitive, fiercely protective of his team, of the game."
This and that:
With a record of 26-8, the Cubs are off to their best start though 34 games since the 1907 team also began 26-8. … The Cubs are 14-2 against the National League Central. … Cubs starting pitchers have pitched though the fifth inning in 42 consecutive regular-season games, dating to Sept. 27 of last year.