Maddon confident Soler's defense will improve

March 15th, 2016

MESA, Ariz. -- Jorge Soler misplayed two balls in left field in Monday's 10-2 loss to the Padres, but manager Joe Maddon took the blame for the one hit by Jon Jay because the Cubs had moved the outfielder in prior to the play. Still, Soler has looked a little rough out there. Does Maddon trust him in the outfield?

"He definitely needs to improve. There's no question," Maddon said Tuesday. "We have talked to him about it. [Bench coach Dave Martinez] is working diligently with him. He's capable of more.

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"A lot of it has to do with information and drill work. Those are the two things I think he needs, and he's getting that right now. He throws well. He's shown he's capable of making good plays. It's like his hitting -- his pitch selection went away from him, and then he got it back."

Soler is being asked to move from right to left to make room for Jason Heyward, but the switch is not the reason for the extra work. Kyle Schwarber is the Cubs' other option in left field, and Maddon said he'll pick the starters depending on matchups.

Bottom line, Soler needs more experience.

Maddon said the defensive abilities are there, and Soler has to develop a better first step and improve his route to the ball. Also, Soler and the other Cubs outfielders will likely play a little deeper this year to keep the ball in front of them.

That was a problem in the fifth inning on Monday. Travis Jankowski lined a single to left that dropped in front of a sliding Soler, and the ball rolled all the way to the warning track. Jankowski didn't stop running, and scored on the error to give the Padres a 2-1 lead.

"To get guys a little bit deeper is probably the right thing to do. Keep the extra-base hit out of it and permit the single," Maddon said. "Now, when the ball bloops in front of you in the latter part of the game and the run scores, everybody goes nuts. Percentage-wise, it's probably better to play these guys a little deeper."