Royals outfielder Jorge Soler isn’t guaranteed to return to the field this season, manager Ned Yost told reporters Sunday. Soler had been working his way back from a lengthy stint on the disabled list after he fractured his left toe in mid-June, but experienced an unanticipated setback in his recovery this week and is no longer a lock to rejoin the team before the end of 2018.
Soler, 26, is in his second year with the Royals following a swap for the Cubs’ Wade Davis in the 2016 offseason. This was shaping up to be his most productive season to date: prior to the injury, he slashed .265/.354/.466 with nine home runs and an .820 OPS through 257 plate appearances for the team. During his two-game rehab stint at Triple-A Omaha, he went 2-for-8 with a pair of base hits, two walks and six strikeouts.
While Yost didn’t reveal the exact nature of the setback, it doesn’t sound like Soler is facing anything serious enough to compromise his playing time in 2019. Surgery was ruled out as a potential fix for the fracture earlier this season, and it’s likely that Soler is just looking at another few weeks of rest and rehabilitation at this point. The Royals, meanwhile, still have several options in the right field corner, with Jorge Bonifacio and Rosell Herrera to continue holding down the fort in Soler’s absence.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.