4/4 Extra bases
* Cubs top prospect Jorge Soler had to leave his Minor League season opener Thursday after he hit a double because of a sore left hamstring. Soler doubled in the first inning for Double-A Tennessee off Mat Latos, who was making a rehab start for Pensacola. Soler was limited to 55 games at Class A Daytona last season because of a strained left calf.
“It sounds like the exact same injury,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said Friday. “He maybe rushed back too early to get ready for Opening Day or maybe it’s a coincidence. He hits a double in the gap against Latos and it’s a shame that’s the way his season started out. Hopefully, we’ll get good news and he’ll be back on the field soon.”
Soler was to have an MRI on his leg either Friday or Saturday, Hoyer said.
* Hoyer would not say whether the Cubs are still talking to Jeff Samardzija about a contract extension, or if the team would discuss anything this season.
“We’ll keep that in house,” Hoyer said. “In general, it’s up to the player [whether to talk in-season]. We don’t have any problem negotiating in season. I don’t have to hit a fastball or throw a strike. It doesn’t bother me or [president of baseball operations Theo Epstein], but if he or his agent thinks it’ll influence a performance at all, then we don’t do it. We take it on a case by case basis.”
* Cubs pitcher Carlos Villanueva threw a bullpen on Friday in preparation for what he feels will be his first start on Sunday. The right-hander was eager to get back on the mound.
“I threw a bullpen and I told [pitching coach Chris] Bosio, ‘I wish I could pitch today,'” Villanueva said. “I feel really good today.”
Villanueva took the loss in the Cubs’ first two games Monday and Wednesday, pitching in relief. His start on Sunday was in question because of the workload and manager Rick Renteria said he would talk with Bosio to go over their options. As far as Villanueva is concerned, he’s starting in the series finale against the Phillies.
“I’m in on Sunday,” Villanueva said. “Unless, they tell me otherwise, I’m in.”
— Carrie Muskat