8/10/2013 12:25 A.M. ET
Injured prospect Soler could play in fall league
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Cubs prospect Jorge Soler, sidelined with a stress fracture in his left tibia, was to be examined on Monday in Chicago to gauge the outfielder's recovery.
Soler, who was playing for Class A Daytona, was injured in late June, and expected to be sidelined four to six weeks. The Cubs were hopeful he could return to action this season. Soler could play in the Arizona Fall League, which begins in early October.
Soler, 21, was batting .281 with eight home runs, 13 doubles, one triple and 35 RBIs in 55 games with Daytona. He apparently fouled a ball off his left shin in Spring Training, and the injury flared up before the Florida State League All-Star Game.
Albert Almora, the Cubs' first-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, also was on the disabled list with a groin injury, and general manager Jed Hoyer said Friday the outfielder could be sidelined 10 days to two weeks. Almora is another candidate for the AFL.
Kris Bryant, the Cubs' No. 1 pick this year in the Draft, has been impressive at short-season Boise, and Hoyer said they will discuss a possible promotion. The third baseman would likely be bumped up to Class A Kane County next.
"He's played really well over the last couple weeks," Hoyer said. "It's to be expected that he would get off to a slow start. He hadn't played since the end of May. [A promotion] is something we'll be discussing over the next week or so."
On Thursday, Kyle Hendricks made a good impression in his first start with Triple-A Iowa, giving up one unearned run over seven innings, striking out five and walking one.
"He has a sub 2.00 ERA in Double-A and to go up and throw seven innings and no earned runs in Triple-A, it shows you the value of command," Hoyer said. "It's nothing spectacular, mostly fastball, changeup, but he locates everything down and to both sides of the plate. He's had a terrific year. You could make a strong argument that he's been the best [Cubs' Minor League] pitcher this year."
It's unlikely the Cubs would promote Hendricks to the big league club when rosters expand in September because they want to watch the innings count. What is encouraging is the quality of talent in the system.
"I feel much better about our pitching than I did a year ago," Hoyer said. "[Thursday] was a fun night in the Minor Leagues. We had a lot of guys throw well. We have better arms than a year ago, and we have to keep doing that year after year after year. You look at what the Cardinals are doing, they're moving guys around. They bring in [Carlos] Martinez yesterday and [Michael] Wacha tomorrow and we're not there by any stretch. We do have a lot more depth than we did a year ago."
One area the Cubs do need to improve on is developing more depth at catcher in the Minors.
"When I look at our Minor League system, almost every position on the diamond, you can find a pretty good prospect, and the catching area is thin," Hoyer said. "It's going to be a priority for us over the next couple years. We've made pitching such a priority and [catching] is an area we're thin in."
The Cubs recently promoted catcher Cael Brockmeyer from Boise to Triple-A Iowa after J.C. Boscan was added to the big league roster.
"It's really hard [to acquire catching]," Hoyer said. "When you get that guy who's a front line guy, you're spoiled."
Navarro to return, but Cubs lose Guerrier for season
ST. LOUIS -- Dioner Navarro, who had to be carted off the field Wednesday after a collision at home plate, will be back on Saturday. Unfortunately, reliever Matt Guerrier is done for the season.
Navarro, injured after Philadelphia's Chase Utley crashed into him at home in the seventh, has a mild Grade 1 right ankle sprain, and will not need to go on the disabled list, the team announced Friday. Cubs orthopedic specialist Dr. Stephen Gryzlo examined the catcher on Friday in Chicago. Navarro was expected to rejoin the Cubs on Saturday.
"They seemed to think he could play [Saturday] in a game, and start and play nine innings by Monday," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
However, the news wasn't as good for Guerrier, whose last outing of the season was in that same seventh inning in Philadelphia. The right-hander also was examined in Chicago, and has a flexor mass in his right elbow.
"It appears it's going to be surgery," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Friday. "He's going to sit down and think about it."
Guerrier does not need a Tommy John procedure on his right elbow, Hoyer said.
Scott Baker, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, has been shut down for one week, and will begin another 30-day rehab assignment next Wednesday. Baker's last rehab start was postponed because of rain.
Outfielder Brian Bogusevic, on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, was expected to begin playing in Rookie League games soon, Hoyer said.
DeJesus gets first start at cleanup spot in order
ST. LOUIS -- For the first time in his career, David DeJesus was batting cleanup, and the Cubs outfielder initially didn't believe it.
"[Manager Dale Sveum] had a lineup up, and then I was getting a massage, and someone said, 'Hey, you're batting fourth,' and I'm like, 'Yeah, right, ha, ha,'" DeJesus said before the game. "And he's like, 'No, wait, I'm serious.' I'm like, 'All right, cool.'
"Now I've hit in every spot in my career," he said. "That was a nice little way to finish it. [Anthony] Rizzo will get a lot of fastballs and I'll just protect him."
DeJesus' cleanup debut was hardly anything special -- he finished 0-for-3 with two strikeouts -- but Rizzo did contribute a two-run single.
Alfonso Soriano has the most at-bats in the No. 4 spot for the Cubs, but after he was traded to the Yankees, Sveum has had to mix and match. He's also used Rizzo; Nate Schierholtz, who got Friday off; Starlin Castro ; Dioner Navarro, Welington Castillo and Cody Ransom. Luis Valbuena and Ryan Sweeney also have batted fourth, but both are on the disabled list.
"The lineup, obviously, right now is something you have to piece together day to day," Sveum said.
Told that it's the first time in DeJesus' career that he's batting fourth, Sveum said, "I figured it was."
DeJesus and Schierholtz have been the most productive with runners in scoring position on the Cubs. Sveum didn't expect DeJesus to change his approach.
"The one thing about hitting is you have people who don't really care and it doesn't really matter," Sveum said of the lineup. "You're going to hit the way you hit, and hopefully that's the way everybody stays, no matter where you put them in the lineup. You're only the fourth hitter only once and the leadoff hitter only once. After that, you could be anything."
Cubs not concerned about Samardzija's workload
ST. LOUIS -- Jeff Samardzija matched a career-low on Thursday, lasting 3 1/3 innings, in the Cubs' 12-1 loss to the Phillies, but manager Dale Sveum said if the team didn't make a few mistakes, the outcome might have been different.
Samardzija is not the concern, Sveum said, and there are no plans to give the right-hander a break.
"We took the reins off, obviously, and there's no holding back," Sveum said of Samardzija, who was shut down in early September last year when he reached his innings limit. "As long as we feel he's not getting tired or losing velocity, we don't have any plans to do anything."
Samardzija has given up 12 earned runs in his last 9 1/3 innings. He's also been asked often about a possible contract extension often. Could that be a distraction?
"Last year, he had a bad month as well," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Friday. "He got through it and threw well at the end of the season. I'm hopeful he can get through this down stretch and get going. Last year, the way he finished up the season with his last start, he had a lot left in the tank. I don't think he's getting tired -- he might be pressing. He's gotten through this kind of stretch before and we're hopeful he can get through it again."
Hoyer said there has been some dialogue between Samardzija's agent but added that "nothing has changed on that front."
"I don't see that as a huge issue," Hoyer said. "I certainly hope it's not."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.