Geovany Soto has dropped 40 pounds so far this off-season and has become a new man. Manager Lou Pinella and the Cubs instructed Soto to lose “some weight” this off-season, but when they saw him at this past weekend’s Cubs Convention, they were shocked out how quickly and how much weight Soto really dropped. Soto took it to heart. He adjusted his diet (mainly chicken, fish and vegetables) and worked out with a personal trainer in Puerto Rico. The results are astounding and Soto is feeling like he is ready to go even though it’s only January.
Soto had this to say about the “new” Soto: “It’s weird, I feel like a 12-year-old. I have a lot of energy, I’m wired all say… I’m active all day. I used to be sluggish, I’d want to take a nap. Now, I feel great. I want to push myself in the best position to help the club. The better I feel, if I’m agile back there, it will give me the best opportunity to not get hurt. I want to be there for my teammates… I’m not thinking about me, I’m thinking about us as a team.”
2009 was clearly a disappointing season for Soto. In 2008, Soto was named the National League Rookie of the Year and he was the NL’s starting catcher in the All-Star Game. Soto hit .285 with a .364 on-base percentage and he had 86 RBI’s, 23 HR’s and 35 doubles. In 2009, Soto battled injuries and a World Baseball Classic positive drug testing, and his poor numbers showed that he was not in the best shape. Soto played in just 102 games (down from 141 the year before), hitting a paltry .218 with a .321 on-base percentage. Soto hit only 11 home runs and drove in 47 runs. Not good.
It’s great to see that Soto took some responsibility for his lack of discipline in 2009. Some players would have continued to lay blame elsewhere, but it’s clear that Soto realized that he let his teammates down and that he wanted to make amends. Koyie Hill will still serve as the Cubs backup behind the plate, but it looks like Soto should be able to return to his 2008 form. The Cubs need him big time. If he can take a little pressure off of Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and newcomer Marlon Byrd with improved offensive output, the lineup could be formidable from top to bottom again. The Wrigley Field faithful and Cubs fans across the country will also be thrilled with the improved play and dedication from their starting catcher. Go Cubs!