CHICAGO – The Florida State League has suspended Cubs prospect Jorge Soler five games for his actions that resulted in an ejection Wednesday.
The 21-year-old Cuban, who plays for High Class-A Daytona, grabbed a bat from the Cubs' dugout and was headed towards the Clearwater Threshers' dugout before teammates and coaches stopped him.
The situation began when Soler, who signed a nine-year, $30 million contract with the Cubs last year, exchanged words with Clearwater Threshers second baseman Carlos Alonso after the final play of the seventh inning following Soler's slide into the base.
Players from both teams left the dugouts to separate Soler and Alonso, and everyone began heading back to their respective benches. At that point, Soler grabbed the bat and approached the Clearwater's dugout.
President of baseball operations Theo Epstein said he watched video of the incident and supports Soler but condemns his actions.
“It's our responsibility to work with him and make sure he has a better way to channel his emotions on the field and make sure something like this doesn't happen again,” Epstein said. “That's our responsibility and that's his responsibility to fully embrace that.”
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he was aware of only limited details regarding Soler’s actions that led to his ejection.
“Anything like that is surprising, but the circumstances, you don’t know, you weren’t there, so it’s so hard to know what set somebody off," Sveum said. "We really don’t know all the details yet, except obviously that it was an incident that you want back.”
Outfielder Alfonso Soriano took on a mentoring role with Soler during spring training, and though he is still waiting to learn all the details, Soriano said he feels sorry for Soler.
“I was surprised he got that upset because I talked to him at spring training, and he looked to me like he’s a nice guy, quiet guy," Soriano said. "It surprised me what he did.”
Few understand the pressure of being a top prospect making big money than pitcher Jeff Samardzija. The Cubs signed Samardzija to a five-year, $10 million contract in 2007 after he graduated from Notre Dame, where he played football and baseball.
“If you’re going to come here and plan on playing here in Chicago, New York, [Los Angeles], any big city, you have to understand it’s not going to go your way all the time," Samardzija said. "You’ve got to be able to handle that. If you can’t handle that, you’re not going to be around for too long. Hopefully he just learns. You can’t lose your emotions like that. You’ve got to stay under control and if you do, you definitely can’t use a bat.