5/1 Sor-I-A-No, Sor-I-A-No
Alfonso Soriano is starting to heat up. On Saturday, he hit his second homer in as many games with a two-run, game-tying blast in the seventh. The Cubs went on to beat the Diamondbacks, 7-5.
The count was 3-1 when home plate umpire Sam Holbrook called a strike on a pitch Soriano thought was a ball. The left fielder stepped back into the box and launched the next pitch from former Cubs pitcher Bob Howry into the bleachers in left center.
“He called a strike so I thought if [Howry] throws my pitch in the zone, I want to swing at it,” Soriano said. “If he throws a ball, I’ll take the ball. He threw a very good pitch, middle away, and I took a good swing.”
Soriano, now hitting .303, has been more patient and able to recognize his pitch. Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo wants Soriano to keep his lower body quiet, which helps him stay back and see the ball better. If he’s relaxed at the plate, not worried about his knee, swinging at strikes, the end result can be 40 homers, 100 RBIs.
“People don’t realize how hurt ‘Sori’ was last year and he played through it,” Derrek Lee said of the left fielder, who needed arthroscopic knee surgery last September. “His numbers were down and we appreciated that he was out on the field. I think you’re going to see a lot better year from ‘Sori’ because he’s 100 percent.”
When Soriano took the field after his homer Saturday, the left field bleacher fans stood and chanted his name.
“That’s what I want to be is working hard to make the fans happy,” Soriano said. “They deserve it. They support the team every day. That’s what I want to do is play hard.”
“Soriano’s starting to get that power swing back,” Lou Piniella said. “That’s what we need from him.”
— Carrie Muskat