4/11 When you’re smiling …
At one point in the seventh inning Tuesday night, Geovany Soto made Rafael Dolis laugh. The Brewers were threatening to add on after Dolis walked the first two batters. Soto, the Cubs catcher, went out to the mound to talk to Dolis, who was making his second appearance this year and third of his career, to make sure the right-hander was breathing.
“I told him, ‘Feel like you’re playing Wiffle ball in the Dominican and it’s cold because we just had a hurricane and there’s no power,'” Soto said Wednesday. “I was trying to get his mind away from [the game]. Maybe he’s feeling a little pressure or is nervous or is cold. I was trying to get him away from that so he could regroup.”
Telling Dolis there’s a hurricane sounds like an odd way to expect him to relax.
“I told him the power is out, the conditions are really bad,” Soto said. “We can only be outside playing Wiffle ball. I said, ‘This guy’s got two homers off you so you want to strike him out with Wiffle ball.’ He’s looking at me, like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I just tried to calm him down. When you’re calm and feel comfortable, that’s when your talent comes out. I wanted him to feel like he was at home. He has unbelievable talent and an unbelievable fastball that I want to come out.”
Dolis, who is from the Dominican Republic, has seen his share of hurricanes. But he laughed again when asked about Soto’s efforts. The right-hander did give up a run in the seventh and ended the inning by striking out Nyjer Morgan.
Soto also spent some time on the mound Tuesday night with Lendy Castillo, 23, who pitched the ninth. Castillo spent last season at Class A and is making a huge leap to the big leagues.
“It’s going to take a little bit for these guys,” Soto said. “I remember my first time when I was in the big leagues and my knees were shaking a little bit. It goes like that. You can’t teach experience. You just have to go out there and play.”
— Carrie Muskat