Royals right fielder Jorge Soler made a hasty exit from Friday’s 7-3 loss to the Astros after fracturing the first metatarsal bone of his left foot. He incurred the injury on a groundout in the sixth inning, after which he was swiftly replaced by Whit Merrifield in the outfield corner. A definite timetable won’t be set for Soler’s return until he undergoes a CT scan on Saturday, but club manager Ned Yost has already projected a lengthy recovery for the outfielder, and MLB.com’s Rustin Dodd adds that a similar injury kept the Nationals’ Jayson Werth out of commission for over two months last season.
While Soler has steered clear of any major injury so far in 2018, this is the second time he’s injured his left foot in a week’s time. He sustained a minor bone bruise after fouling a ball off of his foot on June 8, though that doesn’t appear to have affected the severity of his newest injury.
Prior to his injury in the sixth inning, Soler went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against the Astros’ Charlie Morton. That’s hardly indicative of the career-best numbers he’s been putting up so far this season: a .268/.358/.473 batting line, nine home runs and an .831 OPS through 254 plate appearances. While Soler’s official replacement has yet to be named, Adalberto Mondesi might see some time at the keystone if the Royals elect to keep infielder/outfielder Merrifield in the outfield corner this summer.
Tied at a league-leading 10 home runs apiece with Cody Bellinger and Khris Davis, it wasn’t long before Brewers slugger Christian Yelich set himself apart from the competition yet again. During the bottom of the first inning on Friday, the 2018 NL MVP singled out the first pitch he saw from the Dodgers’ Ross Stripling — an 86.5-m.p.h. slider just wide of the strike zone — and returned it to the second deck seats in right field for his 11th home run of 2019.
While Bellinger and Davis will undoubtedly continue to make it difficult for Yelich to claim sole honors at the top of the leaderboard, the 27-year-old outfielder has had a banner year so far. Through the first three weeks of the season, he’s batting a strong .354/.447/.823 with 15 extra-base hits, 29 RBI, and three stolen bases across 94 plate appearances. The 29 RBI (27 entering Friday’s game) he collected between March and April eclipsed Prince Fielder’s previous franchise record of 26 RBI — and there’s no telling how much higher that total will rise by the end of the month, too.
Even with the benefit of Yelich’s immense talents, however, the Brewers are just clinging to a first-place tie with the Pirates atop the NL Central. They dropped their last two games to the Cardinals and Dodgers, respectively, and will need to overturn the remainder of their series against LA to build up their division lead again. They’re currently tied 2-2 with the Dodgers in the seventh.