6/16 Cubs defend Soriano
You may not have liked what Alfonso Soriano did in the sixth inning Saturday night but his teammates and manager understood. The Cubs trailed 3-0 with two outs in the sixth and had runners at first and second. Soriano lined the ball sharply to third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who bobbled it but recovered in time to throw him out easily. That’s because Soriano didn’t run it out, thinking Middlebrooks had caught the ball.
“That’s one of those things where 100 percent of every player in the history of baseball would do the same thing,” Dale Sveum said. “I know I did it a lot a lot of times in my career. You hit a ball that hard and hit it right at somebody and you think it’s in the glove and you put your head down and unfortunately, it gets away from him.”
Need proof? Do a YouTube search for Sean Casey bloopers. He lined the ball to left once, thought the third baseman got it, and it actually went into left field. Casey was thrown out at first by the left fielder.
At Wrigley, the fans booed as the inning ended, and resumed when Soriano took his place in left field.
“It’s unfair because it’s a hard line drive into the third baseman’s glove,” Soriano said. “I’m happy my teammates and my manager and the coaches support me. They know I’m working hard to be a better player and be a better teammate.”
Why don’t the fans know that?
“I don’t think they understand the game,” Soriano said. “It’s a line drive, nothing you can do about it. If it’s a ground ball, they can do whatever they want. I don’t know what [the fans] want.”
Ryan Dempster’s locker is next to Soriano’s and he heard the conversation.
“I would’ve run the same way, Sori,” Dempster said.
Ever since Soriano joined the Cubs, signing an eight-year, $136 million contract in November 2006, he’s had to deal with incredibly high expectations.
“That contract comes into play sometimes with that kind of reaction,” Sveum said. “The fact of the matter is everybody in this clubhouse knows how hard Sori works and how hard he’s played this year, and the balls he’s run out and the work he puts in to be a better outfielder. No matter what those legs feel like every day, he’s gone out there every day if it’s optional hitting. There’s not a guy in that clubhouse who wouldn’t give the shirt off their back for him.”
— Carrie Muskat