Soto Targeted for Friday Return

Soto slated to return Friday (AP)

Chicago Cubs catcher Geovany Soto, out since early July with a strained left oblique, is scheduled to come off the disabled list Friday when the team opens a four-game series at Colorado.

The reigning National League Rookie of the Year has struggled in 69 games behind the plate this season, batting .230 with eight home runs and 10 doubles.

Soto, who last played on July 6, began a rehab assignment at Class AA Tennessee earlier this week. He caught five innings for Tennessee in a game Monday, and four innings Tuesday, going 1-for-3 with a solo home run.

"Everything went well," Cubs Assistant General Manager Randy Bush said of Soto's first two games with Tennessee. "The plan is for him to catch a full game (Wednesday). We have an off day Thursday, so assuming everything goes OK, he'll travel and be activated Friday."

Perhaps no one will be as happy to see Soto back from the DL as Koyie Hill. The 30-year-old Hill entered play Wednesday having made 25 consecutive starts behind the plate -- the most for a Cubs catcher since Damon Berryhill in 1989.

Hill has batted .198 (18-91) since Soto went down. But having caught every game in Soto's absence, Bush said the veteran Hill has been the Cubs' Iron Man.

"I can't say enough about what Koyie has done for our major league club," Bush said. "He's just been a workhorse. And our record when he's behind the plate over any part of the last three years has been outstanding. It's not a coincidence.

"He does a great job with our pitching staff and we just can't say enough about what he's meant to our major league club and the effort that he has given us."

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