Royals outfielder Jorge Soler progressed one step closer to making his 2017 debut on Friday, clubbing a three-run homer in his first night on a rehab assignment for Class AAA Omaha.
Soler, who is recovering from a strained oblique muscle, drove from Arlington to Round Rock, Texas, on Friday morning, meeting up with the Storm Chasers before a night game at Class AAA Round Rock, a Rangers affiliate.
The homer came in the top of the fourth. Soler flied out in his first at-bat.
Soler sustained a Grade 1 oblique strain in a minor-league game on March 26, in the last week of spring training before the regular season.
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Acquired at the Winter Meetings in a trade that sent Wade Davis to the Chicago Cubs, Soler was expected to begin the season as the Royals’ starting right fielder. The club has exercised caution during a steady rehab.
Soler, 25, is under club control for the next four seasons. A former top prospect, he batted .258 with a .328 on-base percentage and 27 homers in 765 plate appearances for the Cubs from 2014 to 2016. He helped the Cubs win a World Series last fall, picking up his ring earlier this week. But his tenure in Chicago was marked by injury issues.
The Royals will exercise more caution as Soler begins his rehab stint. Yet the club could use more production in right field. The team optioned slumping outfielder Paulo Orlando to Omaha on Friday, replacing him with 23-year-old prospect Jorge Bonifacio.