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Injuries Continue to Plague Cubs

By Garrett Monaghan

Just when it was looking like the injury bug had been banished from the clubhouse, the Cubs succumbed to a pair of freak injuries in the course of two days; losing Ryan Dempster to a broken toe, and Geovanny Soto to a strained oblique.

Kevin Hart has been recalled to replace Dempster in the rotation, and Soto is scheduled for an MRI at Northwestern Hospital this afternoon. Dempster's injury isn't particularly serious, but oblique injuries can last quite a while, particularly for catchers, and that has to cause some concern for the Cubs. In the short-term, Koyie Hill can do a respectable job filling in for Soto. Hill is a plus defender who calls a great game (his catcher's ERA is a full run lower than Soto's) but he's not a long-term offensive replacement if Soto's going to be out for more than a couple weeks.

The Cubs' farm system isn't well stocked with catchers at the upper levels. AAA Iowa carries two catchers, Steve Clevenger and Chris Robinson, but neither are really blue chip prospects. Robinson, 25, has spent the whole season at Iowa, hitting .315./.321/.430 and throwing out a Mike Piazza-esque 14% of baserunners. Clevenger, who was called up from AA Tennessee a few weeks ago, is left-handed and a better defender than Robinson, but probably won't get the call due to his relative lack of experience. Jake Fox could probably get back behind the plate in a pinch, I don't think anybody, including Fox, is in a big hurry to see that happen.

The Cubs will probably wait to determine the severity of Soto's injury before making another roster move, but if it looks like Soto will be out for a significant length of time, don't be surprised to see Jim Hendry add a catcher to his shopping list.


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