Soto goes from Rookie of the Year to benched

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Last year Geovany Soto turned in one of the greatest rookie seasons ever from a catcher, hitting .285/.364/.504 with 23 homers, 35 doubles, and 62 walks in 141 games while gunning down 27 percent of steal attempts and helping Cubs pitchers post a 3.80 ERA when he was behind the plate.
He started the All-Star game, received 31 of 32 first-place votes in the Rookie of the Year balloting, and became just the 17th catcher in baseball history with an adjusted OPS+ of at least 120 as a 25-year-old. And now he’s been benched. “I think we’ll catch Koyie Hill a lot more,” manager Lou Piniella said yesterday after the Cubs fell 10 games back in the NL Central. “It’s been a struggle for Soto.”
Piniella is right, because Soto’s sophomore campaign that has definitely been a mess from the start. He suffered a shoulder injury just days into the season, got some bad press in June as a result of testing positive for marijuana during the World Baseball Classic, landed on the disabled list with an oblique injury in July, and has gone 6-for-47 (.128) since coming off the shelf. He’s hitting just .212/.318/.371 in 84 games overall.
On the other hand, while that represents a massive dropoff from his rookie numbers .212/.318/.371 is still significantly better than Hill’s career .215/.290/.311 line and basically equal to Hill’s .245/.329/.347 mark this season. Soto has also done a solid job behind the plate, throwing out 30 percent of steal attempts and pitch-calling his way to a decent 4.16 ERA. In other words, “a struggle for Soto” is more or less Hill at his best.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.