Soto likely back in lineup Wednesday
Encouraged by shoulder, catcher pinch-hits on Sunday
MILWAUKEE -- Cubs catcher Geovany Soto, sidelined with a sore shoulder, could be back in the starting lineup on Wednesday, and may be available as early as Monday for the home opener, manager Lou Piniella said.
"He's ready to go, basically," Piniella said Sunday. "We're not going to use him tonight. [Monday], if we need him, we'll use him, and by Wednesday, he'll be able to play. We'll ride this thing out and go from there. He's feeling really, really good, and it's good news for us."
The Cubs actually did use Soto on Sunday night as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. He took a called strike three to end the inning.
Soto had to come out of Tuesday's game in Houston because of discomfort in his right shoulder, and was diagnosed with inflammation. There was some tendinitis in his biceps, as well. On Sunday, he threw in the outfield from about 90 feet, and even though he was throwing about 60 percent, he could feel a difference from Tuesday.
"I felt great," Soto said. "I didn't feel any pain or nothing -- no discomfort. I'm really happy how today went."
The catcher's been busy doing strengthening exercises for his shoulder, as well as alternating heat and ice treatments and taking anti-inflammatory medication.
Soto was a little disappointed to not be starting the home opener Monday against Colorado.
"There are going to be a lot of games, and hopefully, I'm in a few important games down the road," he said.
Meanwhile, backup catcher Koyie Hill downplayed his open-toe shoe, which he wore Sunday for the second straight game to alleviate any pressure on his right little toe. Hill was hit by a pitch on Friday, and his shoe was cut open near the little toe.
"When they cut the shoe out, it made all the difference in the world," Hill said. "When I had pressure on the side of it, it wasn't comfortable. It was fine playing last night, to be honest. There were times when you'd back up first and certain instances when you'd feel it, but it was fine.
"It was like wearing sandals. There was no pressure at all."
Hill had done a test run to make sure he could maintain his balance behind the plate with the opening in his shoe. The swelling had gone down on Sunday, although Hill said his toe was still "ugly."
"Catching-wise, I knew I was going to be fine," he said.
A switch-hitter, Hill was asked if he considered batting right-handed to reduce the risk of getting hit on the right foot again by a pitch.
"Are you kidding me?" he said. "I have a hard enough time hitting left-handed off of them. I haven't hit right-handed against a righty since eighth grade."
Hill shouldered a lot of the blame for Friday's loss, which the Brewers won, 4-3, in the ninth. Piniella spoke to Hill and said the catcher was being too hard on himself.
"It meant a lot, him saying that," Hill said. "It always feels good when your boss or somebody you respect backs you up and supports you. It was nice. Lou does a good job with that, and I appreciate it."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.