Jorge Soler: “In Cuba everyone wanted to be like Yulieski Gurriel.”

Cuban slugger Jorge Soler has earned the nickname “El Crudo” (“The Raw One”) for how powerfully he swings the bat at the plate and the raw power he generates upon contact. Soler ranks amongst the Top-3 of active Cuban home run hitters in the Major Leagues (MLB) with 134 roundtrippers all time.

The Havana born hitter who is a two-time world champion and a World Series MVP, also owns the record for most longballs in a season by a Cuban with 48. Soler who homered in last night’s victory for Miami figures to be a key bat in the Marlins order and a top run producer for the fish this season.

Last year he came to the Miami Marlins as a key offseason acquisition, but injuries only allowed him to see action in 72 games in which he hit 13 homers and drive in 34 runs. Before yesterday’s game he spoke with Pelota Cubana about his current state of health, his outlook for this season and what it means to share a locker room with his countrymen Yuli Gurriel.

You seem to exude more optimistism at the beginning of this season,why?

“As you all know, we have a new manager. Changes were made, others key bats were brought acquired during the offseason. We have a good team and we are going to give it our all. Last year I had a bad season, I was injured for more than half of the year, but this year, God willing, I’m going to be healthy and productive.

How did the spring help in your recovery from the back injury you suffered last season?

“For the first month I was still a bit frustrated, because I didn’t see any progress, but then thank God the stars aligned and my back made a full recovery. Only then did I begin to hit the ball better”.

So the back will not give more problems in the near future?

“We are doing exercises every day in the gym. I have to do those exercises for the rest of my life. As long as I keep playing ball I will have to repeat that exercise routine. If I don’t , then I might regress. Every day when I arrive at the stadium, the first thing I do is eat something and then I make my wayto the gym.”

Your locker is next to Yuli Gurriel’s in the clubhouse. Elaborate about that experience so far?

“Everyone knows who Yulieski Gurriel is, he’s one of the best baseball players that has ever come out of Cuba. He has also come here and has shown us how talented he is, not only is he very experienced, but also two World Series titles under his belt. There is no doubt that his experience and wisdom will rub off on our young players. I am happy that he’s here, because during my career I have barely played with any Cubans. I played with (Aroldis)Chapman for a while in Chicago, but it was only for like two months. In Cuba everyone wanted to be like Yulieski Gurriel.

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