Jorge Soler

Melvin confident Soler will bounce back from early season slump

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SAN FRANCISCO – Giants manager Bob Melvin dropped slugger Jorge Soler down a few spots in the batting order in hopes of relieving some of the pressure off San Francisco’s clean-up hitter.

It worked out just fine, as Soler broke out of an extended slump at the plate with a two-run moon shot off Pirates reliever David Bednar in the 10th inning of Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh at Oracle Park.

It was Soler’s fourth home run in April and his fifth overall with the Giants after signing a three-year, $42 million free agent deal with the club in the offseason.

When Soler signed the contract in February, San Francisco hoped he would provide some of the power that has been missing from the Giants’ lineup for some time.

Instead, it’s been a mostly frustrating season for the power-hitting Cuban. Before his home run Saturday, Soler was hitting just. 214 with only six RBIs.

Before the game, Melvin was asked about Soler and told reporters he felt that it might take just one good swing for the veteran designated hitter to break out.

Melvin said pretty much the same thing afterward about the former World Series MVP.

“All it takes sometimes is a couple good swings, and that was a really good swing,” Melvin said. “Unfortunately it just kept us one run short. But he’s going to have a big say in how we do and the production that we get. He’s got a huge track record of driving in runs and hitting balls like he did.”

Soler’s home run was an absolute rocket that traveled an estimated 433 feet, had an exit velocity of 109.8 mph and landed two-thirds of the way up the stands in left-center.

It’s the fourth homer that Soler has hit this season with an exit velo of at least 108 mph, tying Joc Pederson for the most home runs hit that hard by a Giants player in a calendar month since at least 2015, per Statcast.

“It’s been a very difficult start of the season. I haven’t been able to find my groove but things like this will help me get my rhythm,” Soler said. “I’ve been working in the cage taking extra batting practice so I can start contributing.”

Soler’s struggles at the plate have been symbolic of the Giants’ team-wide issues with runners in scoring position. Before coming through with his big blast against the Pirates, Soler had been just 2-for-23 (.087) with runners in scoring position.

Heading into the weekend, the Giants were batting a collective .238 with five home runs and 47 strikeouts with runners in scoring position.

“To be honest with you I don’t know how to explain it,” Soler said. “I know I come up in situations with runners on base but I haven’t been able to drive them in.”

That has led to a lot of criticism hurled toward Soler, both from fans and media.

Yet the 32-year-old has tried to insulate himself from it all, knowing full well what the numbers indicated about his lack of contributions.

“I really don’t pay attention to what the fans are saying (and) I don’t read anything,” Soler said. “But I do know for a fact that I’m not doing my job.”

For at least one at-bat, as small a sample size as it is, Soler did his job. Now it’s a matter of keeping the good times and good swings rolling.

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