7/1 Extra bases
* Alfonso Soriano doesn’t like to miss a game but he didn’t argue with Dale Sveum when he offered a day off Sunday. It’s been hot in Chicago, it’ll be hot in Atlanta where the Cubs head next and Soriano is 4-for-38 lifetime against Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez.
“He didn’t fight me too much on it,” Sveum said.
* The Cubs project Jorge Soler to be a middle of the order player. The Cuban outfielder agreed to a nine-year, $30 million deal with the Cubs late Friday.
“He’s got the body, the tools, the bat speed to be an impact player in the big leagues,” Sveum said. “We did a nice job and got another guy who can be an impact guy possbly in the middle of the lineup.”
* Sveum will take advantage of the All-Star break to go home. “I try to get away,” he said of the time off. “I’ll go home to Arizona and pretty much do nothing for three days. I always try to get away, whether it’s going up north. This year, I’ll go home. I don’t get a chance to see the family that much.”
* Starlin Castro enters Sunday’s game batting .298. He doesn’t like it when his average dips below .300.
“People know what that says up there,” Sveum said of the scoreboard. “That’s our own egos. We all know. We might forget how many RBIs we have or home runs or doubles or something, but we know when we’re going into the game at .298 or .296 or .301 or whatever it might be. That’s one stat players will always know going into a game.”
Sveum is happy with the way Castro has improved his footwork on double plays.
“He’s coming across the bag a lot more aggressive than he did before,” Sveum said. “He wanted to be a two-piece double play guy, where he’d be flat footed, and catch, then throw. Now he’s going to get the ball and throwing in the same motion. now you’re getting guys by a half step instead of a guy being safe by a step. You want to let go of that ball 82, 83 feet at shortstop.”
* Looking ahead to the series against the Braves, the pitching will be:
Monday: Jeff Samardzija vs. Tommy Hanson
Tuesday: Chris Volstad vs. Jair Jurrjens
Wednesday: Paul Maholm vs. Randall Delgado
Thursday: Matt Garza vs. Mike Minor
— Carrie Muskat