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Cubs say consistency key for Soler to succeed

Maddon wants outfielder prepared to play every day, not just in postseason
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs are hoping that Jorge Soler can play every day the way he did in the postseason.

Soler, 24, batted .474 in seven playoff games last year, hitting three home runs. He is the first player in Major League history to reach base safely in his first nine career postseason plate appearances. The previous best by a Cubs player was seven in a row by Hack Wilson in the 1929 World Series.

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs are hoping that Jorge Soler can play every day the way he did in the postseason.

Soler, 24, batted .474 in seven playoff games last year, hitting three home runs. He is the first player in Major League history to reach base safely in his first nine career postseason plate appearances. The previous best by a Cubs player was seven in a row by Hack Wilson in the 1929 World Series.

Cubs' Spring Training info

Soler batted .265 and hit 10 home runs in 101 games during the regular season. What was the difference in the playoffs?

"There was a lot of focus, a lot of focus on the game at playoff time," he said. "I was focused on my at-bats, focused on defense."

The Cubs noticed that, too.

Video: NLCS Gm3: Soler ties the game with a solo home run

"My biggest thing with him is that he understands how to get ready to play every day," manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm not looking for great plays, I'm not looking for 30 homers, I'm not looking for him hitting .310. It's just a matter of getting a young player who will understand the Major Leagues on a daily basis, that his prep work is good, that's he's ready to play when asked to play. Those are the biggest things about 'Georgie' moving forward."

Kyle Schwarber led the Cubs with eight RBIs in nine postseason games, while Soler compiled the best average (.474) and slugging percentage (1.105).

"We need to get that playoff performance out of him on a more consistent basis," Maddon said. "For me, what I'm talking about, that's all prep work. It's a matter of teaching him how to get ready on a daily basis and we will. When we do that, you'll see more of that kind of performance on a consistent basis."

Soler got off to a slow start last year, batting .247 in April, and spent two stints on the disabled list, missing time because of a sprained left ankle and an oblique strain. He reported 10 pounds lighter, which the Cubs hope will help him stay healthy.

Projected to see more playing time in left field now that Jason Heyward will move to right to make room for Dexter Fowler in center, Soler says he's not worried about getting enough at-bats.

"When I get my opportunity, when I get my chance, I'll do my job and do the best I can to help the team," he said.

"He understands better," Maddon said of the prep work needed. "He's a young man, came from Cuba, culturally, language, all that stuff, he's a little bit lagging behind. Preston Gomez always told me, be patient with these kids.

"It's our responsibility to give him better tools to work with, whether it's mentally or physically."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chicago Cubs, Jorge Soler