Cubs

Cubs expecting Jorge Soler back for Cardinals series

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Cubs expecting Jorge Soler back for Cardinals series

PITTSBURGH — The Cubs plan to activate Jorge Soler for this weekend’s showdown against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

Soler — who has been on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle since Aug. 24 — will try to show that his game is now in playoff shape.

Soler joined advanced Class-A Myrtle Beach during its postseason run and will stay with the Pelicans through the Carolina League championship. The Pelicans were in position to clinch the Mills Cup on Wednesday night in South Carolina.

That should leave two-plus weeks for Soler to prove he’s healthy enough to be a difference-maker in October (though manager Joe Maddon clearly won’t stop his mix-and-match approach, and the Cubs have multiple options in the outfield).

[MORE CUBS: This is nice for Cubs, but Jon Lester signed up to win World Series]

Listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Soler is at least a presence in the lineup or a right-handed bat off the bench. The rookie has hit .265 with seven homers, 42 RBIs and a .710 in 90 games with the Cubs this season.

While winning the division appears to be an extreme long shot — the Cubs woke up on Wednesday in third place and trailing the Cardinals by seven games with 18 left to play — this weekend could still be a playoff preview.

Here’s how the Cubs will align their rotation for the Cardinals: Dan Haren starts Friday, Saturday will be a bullpen day (with Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill or Clayton Richard likely starting) and Jon Lester will start Sunday.

Report: Giants interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for manager opening

Report: Giants interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for manager opening

The Giants' search for a successor to now-retired manager Bruce Bochy has led them to the North Side.

According to NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic, the Giants are interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for their own managerial opening. San Francisco's interest is intriguing, as Venable went to high school just outside San Francisco in nearby San Rafael. His father — Max Venable — played for the Giants from 1979-83. 

Venable also interviewed for the Cubs' manager job earlier this month, telling the Chicago Sun-Times that his interest is in the "organization in general." He is one of several internal candidates for the Cubs' job, along with bench coach Mark Loretta and front office assistant David Ross.

The Cubs also interviewed Joe Girardi and are set to meet with Astros bench coach Joe Espada and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.

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Former Cub Mark Prior likely to take over as Dodgers pitching coach in 2020

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USA TODAY

Former Cub Mark Prior likely to take over as Dodgers pitching coach in 2020

Mark Prior's big-league playing career unfortunately fizzled out due to recurring injury woes, but he's making a name for himself in the coaching realm.

With Dodgers current pitching coach Rick Honeycutt transitioning into a new role, Prior is expected to takeover the position starting next season.

Cubs fans know the story of Prior's playing career all too well. The Cubs drafted him second overall in the 2001, with Prior making his MLB debut just a season later. He went on to dominate in 2003, posting an 18-6 record, 2.43 ERA and 245 strikeouts in 30 starts, a season in which he made the All-Star Game and finished third in the NL Cy Young Award voting.

However, Prior's season ended on a sour note, as he was on the mound during the Steve Bartman incident in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. Prior exited the game with a 3-1 lead, but the Cubs surrendered seven more runs that inning, eventually falling to the Marlins 8-3 before losing Game 7 the next day. 

Prior struggled to stay healthy after 2003, eventually retiring in 2013 after multiple comeback attempts. While many blame his injury-riddled career on former Cubs manager Dusty Baker, Prior does not. 

While we can only wonder what could've been with Prior to the pitcher, it's good to see him still making an impact in baseball in some fashion.

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