Soler comes to camp prepared for big league pitching

Rookie outfielder added weight in offseason to better handle hurlers

Soler comes to camp prepared for big league pitching

MESA, Ariz. -- Jorge Soler arrived in Spring Training 25 pounds heavier and with a better understanding of what big league pitchers are trying to do to him.

The Cubs outfielder, who batted .292 in 24 games last season, now checks in at 240 pounds. He looks large enough to play middle linebacker on an NFL team.

"No," Soler said, smiling. "I don't understand the game."

Major League pitchers seemed to figure Soler out after a few games. In his first 15 games, he hit five home runs, batted .358 and struck out 12 times. In his last nine games, he had zero homers, batted .194, and struck out 12 times.

"The most important thing was the experience I got in the big leagues and about the pitching," Soler said on Monday. "They make a lot of adjustments against the hitters, so that makes me make adjustments, too."

He spent the offseason in Miami, enjoying his son, Jorge Jr., who was born last year, and training with fellow Cuban Alexei Ramirez. The Cubs will be careful with Soler, 23, this spring to avoid any leg injuries, which limited him last season to 86 games total. When Soler was promoted to the big leagues, he played six days a week.

"I want to keep my routine so I don't have those kind of problems," he said through coach Franklin Font.

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.