Cubs aim to give Soler early confidence boost

Cubs aim to give Soler early confidence boost

ANAHEIM -- One of the reasons Jorge Soler started both of the Cubs' games against the Angels was to help build the young outfielder's confidence in hopes of having him get off to a good start, manager Joe Maddon said before Tuesday's 6-1 win.

"For him personally, the confidence component is big," Maddon said.

Soler started as the designated hitter in both games, and when the Cubs return to National League play, he's expected to share left field with Kyle Schwarber. Last season, Soler batted .262, but finished strong, hitting .474 (9-for-19) in the postseason.

"Tommy [La Stella] is well informed that he knows what his role is [as a bench player] and 'George' [Soler] is still being developed, in a sense, in becoming a regular player," Maddon said. "You have to be mindful of all this stuff."

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Soler was projected as the Cubs' regular right fielder until Jason Heyward arrived, and in Spring Training, the young outfielder did not look as comfortable in left. Maddon said that will come with more playing time there.

What could help Soler is the return of Manny Ramirez, who is a hitting coach and has worked primarily with the Latin players. Ramirez was unable to be in Spring Training this year because of a family commitment, Maddon said.

"Manny's a very informed and good hitting coach and I'm not just talking about the physical [aspects]," Maddon said. "Manny talks hitting really well, he talks about the mental mechanics, and I think that's what benefitted Georgie last year. I like his matter of factness. He's trying to give him good information and I like that."

Manny Ramirez greets the Angels' Albert Pujols before Tuesday night's game at Angel Stadium.Getty

Worth noting

Anthony Rizzo was wearing a wrap around his body to treat some soreness from being hit by a pitch. The Cubs first baseman has taken care of a few firsts in the opening two games of the season.

"You just try to get all the firsts out of the way," Rizzo said. "First hit, first out, first home run, first RBI, first hit by pitch for me. It feels nice to get it done early so you don't have people talk and ask you about it."

On Tuesday, Rizzo launched his first home run, a two-run shot, and did so off lefty Andrew Heaney. Last season, Rizzo hit six of his total 31 home runs off left-handers.

Rizzo's two-run home run

"It's nice [to do it] so I don't get asked about it," said Rizzo, who hit better against lefties than right-handers last season. "It doesn't matter if it's a lefty or righty."

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.