Blog Entry

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

Posted on: March 6, 2012 7:06 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 11:00 am
MESA, Ariz. -- Ears perked up, perhaps, by new manager Dale Sveum discussing him as a potential cleanup man the other day, beleaguered Cubs veteran Alfonso Soriano sure looked the part Tuesday.

Granted, it was March 6. Yes, the Colorado Rockies essentially are holding tryouts for their rotation and Guillermo Moscoso and Zach Putnam won't remind anyone of Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson anytime soon. And true, making hasty spring training judgments is more dangerous than crossing the desert with no water.

On the flip side, when you've had your ears pinned back with boos while disappointing as much as Soriano has over the past couple of seasons ... maybe a little confidence boost can go a long way.

Batting fourth against the Rockies on Tuesday, Soriano absolutely crushed a Moscoso pitch in the second inning, drilling it off of the scoreboard behind the left-field seats. Then, after doubling against Alex White -- another Rockies' starting pitcher wannabe -- he ripped another homer, this one in the fifth against Putnam. He finished with three RBIs.

"Second game, and I'm starting to feel good with my swing and with my timing," Soriano said. "That made me feel good."

Normally, Soriano said, it takes him somewhere between 20 and 25 at-bats before he begins feeling good in the spring. So you might say he's already in mid-spring form.

"My goal is to have a lot of at-bats and feel comfortable at the plate," Soriano, who batted .244 with 26 homers and 88 RBI last season, said of the spring. "I want to show my teammates and show the Cubs that I'm here to play the game. It doesn't matter if I lead off, I'm here to do my job."

Soriano, a leadoff man in the past, lost that gig in 2009 under Lou Piniella. Slogging along at the plate for too long, Soriano mostly hit seventh (221 plate appearances) last year, with some sixth (186) and fifth (94) mixed in.

Aggressively shopped over the winter by new president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, and booed at the Cubs Convention over the winter, Soriano said he doesn't care where he hits in the lineup.

"Not really," he said. "I'm just preparing my mind. It doesn't matter to me if I lead off or hit fourth or fifth."

Wherever Sveum thinks he can best help the club, the affable Soriano said, he's happy to hit there.

Sveum has said he'd like to give rookie first baseman Bryan LaHair the opportunity to hit in the cleanup spot in the order. But right out of the gate, that would appear to be pushing it for a rookie. If Soriano can have a good spring and own the cleanup spot, that will take some of the heat off of LaHair as well as give the Cubs a boost.

Plus, the only way the Cubs likely will be able to trade him is if he gets off to a hot start, and a contender impressed with his April, May and June comes calling. Soriano has three years and $54 million remaining on his contract. The under-new-management Cubs have been so desperate to move him that sources say they will eat a significant portion of the contract if they can deal him.

This spring, though, Soriano, 36, will keep his blinders on and prepare for 2012.

He wants to get as many spring at-bats as he can.

"The more I take, the more I feel comfortable at home plate," he said. "If I can get 50, 60, 100 ... my goal is to be ready for opening day."

Last spring, he checked in with 64 at-bats.

This spring, if many more of them go as they did Tuesday, maybe Soriano can write a happy ending yet.

Sunblock day? Nice and hot, in the 80s, with a bright, warm sun and a cloudless, blue sky. Perfect spring training weather. And great convertible day.

Likes: Cool old huge photo of Ron Santo on the door greeting those entering the press box at the Cubs' HoHoKam Park. Very striking, and a great tribute. ... Looking forward to watching Yu Darvish's Cactus League debut Wednesday. ... Every time I visit Scottsdale Stadium, it's reinforced that it's the best thing going. ... Reminiscing about former major leaguers and legendary scouts Pat Dobson and Ted Uehlander with Giants general manager Brian Sabean. Each of those men, special assistants to Sabean before passing away, was a terrific baseball character, and it brightened your day to run into them. I miss seeing Dobber and Ted around the spring training trails. ... The fried calamari at the Italian Grotto in Scottsdale.

Dislikes: Freddy Sanchez, Giants' second baseman -- will he ever again be healthy enough to be the player many thought he would become? Discuss.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Hold tight to your anger
"And don't fall to your fears"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: March 7, 2012 12:26 pm

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

He looked great last spring too.  It didn't translate into a great season.  I will believe it when I see it.  He is not a terrible hitter, but he is terrible compared to his contract.

Since: Mar 17, 2008
Posted on: March 7, 2012 11:47 am

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

Come on, Mr. Miller...I know you must have something better brewing than an article on Mr. Soriano crushing two home runs in what amounts to be a more complex version of batting practice. I realize that due to Soriano's heavy contract that he wil be seeing regular at-bats this year, and probably for Chicago all year. Re-write this article after Soriano hits 4 home runs in one game or 20 during all the Spring Training games. That will make us all much more interested.

Since: Oct 26, 2006
Posted on: March 7, 2012 11:46 am

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

This should never be allowed to be a quote again.  "He's already in mid-spring form."  So, he's 15 at bats ahead of schedule - everyone look out?!?!  Scott Miller... please before you submit these articles, get some coffee come back and read it.  You have good insights and for baseball I prefer reading your articles on this site. 

However, I hope for the rest of my life in March 7th ever hear someone is already in mid-spring form.  Dang you Scott Miller.. Dang you.

Since: Mar 27, 2007
Posted on: March 7, 2012 11:43 am

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

 Man please stop saying that...Alfonso Soriano has been one of the worst free agent signings in the last 10 years...he is one of the dumbest players in MLB (If he is not the dumbest) Pitchers throw him sliders on the outside corner and he tries to hit home runs to left field....Doesn´t get on base (Top 10 among worst OBP in MLB) one of the worst hitters with runners in scoring position....Cant hit leadoff,cant hit in the middle of the line up and terrrible,terrible but terrible defensive player....and doesnt steal bases.....and for all that money....
     Like someone said in a previous post..." The cubs have been trying to trade Soriano for the last 3 years and nobody wants him" Not even for free someone would want him.....

;  And he was given that contract because he was hitting solo shots as a leadoff batter even though HE WAS A TERRIBLE LEADOFF BATTER...

Since: Apr 3, 2009
Posted on: March 7, 2012 10:54 am

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

There are few players who possess Alfonso Soriano's abilities-----You wanna tell me there are only a "few" players in the MLB that can hit 20 HR's while batting .240?? Is that what it is? Please. 

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: March 7, 2012 10:43 am

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

Also, the only reason Soriano is even on this team is because he is under contract. If he were a free agent, he'd be playing in Japan because no MLB team would sign him. He serves no purpose playing with the Cubs. He can hit .450 in April and the Cubs won't be able to trade him, unless they eat the rest of the contract. MLB owners aren't that stupid, they know Soriano is great for one month of the season, and lousy the other 5. He's terrible defensively all 6 months, and there is no place you can hide him. And he can't DH because he isn't that good a hitter.

Since: Sep 18, 2008
Posted on: March 7, 2012 10:12 am

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

You know, the guy used to be a second baseman.  Why didn't someone try him at first?  It's too late now, and wouldn't have been a good move for the Cubs necessarily, but maybe at 32 or 33 he could have learned to at least be servicable over there. 

Since: Jun 25, 2010
Posted on: March 7, 2012 9:47 am

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

Soriano swings a very heavy bat and when he connects, the ball goes a long way. Problem is, he doesn't see these center cut fastball's from fringe pitching prospects during the season. It's much more difficult to adjust your swing with a heavily weighted bat when you have a guy like Carpenter or Halladay cutting something just off the plate. His swing is pretty, but against a top of the line pitcher, he can't adjust fast enough. Still, he needs to be in the middle of the Cubs order - there's just nothing else in this lineup to keep a pitcher on his toes.

Since: Aug 6, 2009
Posted on: March 7, 2012 9:33 am

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

Soriano has never been a leadoff hitter.  He is a number 7 hitter, or number 6 at best, who ignorant managers have batted in the leadoff position to the detriment of the team

Since: Oct 2, 2007
Posted on: March 7, 2012 8:42 am

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

Ya think???????????????????  All the ivy in Wrigley can`t hide the fact Soriano can`t play defense. Start drinkin heavily Cub fans.  

We were supposed to stop??

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or