Results tagged ‘ Alfonso Soriano ’
How do the Cubs fill the opening in the lineup with the pending departure of Alfonso Soriano?
“You say you’re prepared for it, but I don’t think you’re really prepared to lose somebody of that nature,” Dale Sveum said Thursday. “All the things he brings to a team, the fourth hole, the character, the clubhouse, the leadership and everything. You just don’t replace that.”
Soriano was pulled from Thursday’s Cubs lineup against the Arizona Diamondbacks at the request of president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, and appears to be headed to the Yankees.
Physically, Sveum said he’ll mix and match in the outfield, using rookie Junior Lake as well as Cole Gillespie in left field. Brian Bogusevic, on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, could return in early August.
The Cubs may decide to add a pitcher when they make a roster move rather than an outfielder because the bullpen has been overworked, and they have a doubleheader coming up on Tuesday.
Soriano, 37, was one of the few veterans in the clubhouse.
“You have [Kevin] Gregg, DeJesus, and other than that, it’s a lot of young guys,” Sveum said. “With the addition of Lake, now we’re getting pretty young.”
The Cubs were busy at the Trade Deadline last year, and this season, have made six deals before July 31. The only players who were on the Chicago roster when Jim Hendry was the general manager are Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, Welington Castillo and Jeff Samardzija.
The Cubs may find another left fielder, but can’t replace Soriano’s professionalism.
“You don’t replace that,” Sveum said. “Hopefully, down the road you do. You don’t have a Band-aid right now to replace that kind of guy in your clubhouse.”
— Carrie Muskat
Alfonso Soriano appears to be headed to the Yankees. Theo Epstein asked Dale Sveum to pull Soriano from Thursday’s lineup because a deal was nearly completed between the Cubs and Yankees that would send the 37-year-old outfielder back to the team where he began his pro career. Sveum said the deal was “99 percent” done.
The Yankees were 6 1/2 games back in the American League East. Can Soriano help the Yankees?
“He’s going to a place that is obviously one of the better stadiums, and he’s been there before and has performed in that atmosphere before,” Sveum said. “Obviously, they’ve had a lot of injuries, and he’s the guy who can fill that void as [designated hitter] and in left field.”
Soriano has hit 10 home runs in his last 21 games, and was batting .286 in that stretch with six doubles, 21 RBIs and a 1.044 OPS, dating to June 28. He has homered in five of his last 14 games, and ranks seventh among active players in career home runs with 389.
“He’s put together a pretty good run,” Sveum said. “Last year at 36 years old, he hit 32 [home runs] and drove in 108 [runs]. That’s a legacy in itself. he’s a guy who when he’s on the field, he’s lived up to his media guide, so to speak, besides the stolen bases he’s had in his career early.”
This was Sveum’s second season with Soriano, and he was impressed with his professionalism.
“He’s 100 percent completely different than I thought,” Sveum said. “There hasn’t been a day of disappointment in his attitude, his work ethic, what he brings to younger players and his professionalism has been off the charts.”
— Carrie Muskat
Alfonso Soriano was scratched from Thursday’s lineup, and apparently is headed to the Yankees. Here’s the new lineup vs. lefty Wade Miley:
* The Cubs have hit 39 home runs off left-handed pitchers, the most by any team in the Majors. The Cubs hit 29 homers off southpaws all of last season. Anthony Rizzo has hit six home runs off lefties this year, fourth-most among NL left-handed hitters, trailing only the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez (eight), and the Reds’ Jay Bruce and Joey Votto (seven). Dioner Navarro was hitting .515 (17-for-33) with a .610 on-base percentage, a .998 slugging percentage and a 1.519 OPS against left-handed pitchers this season.
Theo Epstein says they’ve asked Alfonso Soriano to take a few days to consider whether he would waive his no trade clause, and the veteran outfielder says he would possibly go back to the Yankees, who he broke into the big leagues with in 1999.
“He’ll let us know where he’ll go, if anywhere,” Epstein said Wednesday. “At that point, it’s up to us if we want to move forward and finalize a deal.”
Soriano met with Epstein and manager Dale Sveum after Tuesday’s game against the Diamondbacks to discuss the trade rumors swirling around the outfielder. Soriano said he presented them with a list of teams he would be willing to join.
“The Yankees are on the list,” Soriano said Wednesday.
Soriano, 37, has been the subject of trade rumors as recently as last year when the Giants were reportedly interested.
“It’s not 100 percent yet,” Soriano said about a trade, “but I’m open, and if some team calls, and it’s a contender, I think I’ll be in a better position. If not, I’ll be happy either way.”
“I think it’s the closest it’s ever been,” Soriano said of the rumors.
The Cubs inked Soriano to an eight-year, $136-million contract before the 2007 season. The deal runs through the end of next year, when he is scheduled to earn $18 million. The Cubs likely will have to cover part of Soriano’s remaining
salary in any trade.
In a perfect world, Soriano said he would rather stay in Chicago and help the Cubs win a World Series.
“I said in Spring Training, I’d like to finish my contract here,” he said. “But at the same time, I want another chance to get in the playoffs, to get in the World Series. I’d be more than happy if we start playing better and I’ve got a chance to win here. But I’m 37, so I want to have one more chance to go to the World Series. If they don’t have that in their minds, if they’re preparing the team for 2015, 2016, it’s too late for me. At the same time, I try to be a champion here. If not, I have to try to do that somewhere.”
Soriano talked to his family after Tuesday’s meeting.
“My wife told me, any decision I make, she supports me,” Soriano said.
It will be a difficult decision, Soriano said.
“It is, because I’ve been almost seven years here with the same team and feel comfortable here, I have my place in Chicago, I know the city,” he said. “This is baseball. Sometimes you feel comfortable but that’s my job. Sometimes you feel comfortable here and sometimes you have to move somewhere and try something different.”
Soriano was not in the Cubs’ lineup Wednesday against Ian Kennedy, even though he’s a .462 hitter against the Diamondbacks’ right-hander. Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he’d already planned this game as an off day for the veteran.
“We’ve seen what happens with his legs, and even his game when he gets those breaks,” Sveum said of Soriano. “It happened obviously with the timing of all this going on. I think it’s a good time to let him reflect and sit back and think about what’s going on.”
— Carrie Muskat
David DeJesus is back and starting in center field on Wednesday for the Cubs. Alfonso Soriano is getting a scheduled day off, so don’t read any more into that. Here’s the lineup:
Theo Epstein planned to meet with Alfonso Soriano who was caught off guard by reports that the Cubs and Yankees were close to completing a deal which would send the 37-year-old outfielder back to the team he broke in with.
“I saw the news and got surprised,” Soriano said. “My agent told me the Yankees just called but it’s nothing serious and it’s nothing close. When I saw it on TV, I got a little surprised. I didn’t know it was coming — they put a lot of pressure on me, because a lot of friends called me and family when they saw the rumor on TV. my agent and me, we have the control. We talked, and I think if something happens, I want to be the first one to know.”
Epstein and Jed Hoyer were in Arizona on Tuesday and planned on meeting with Soriano to discuss his options. The Yankees aren’t the only team that has inquired about Soriano, Epstein said.
“They’re not the first team to call,” Epstein said. “They’re the first team to show up in the paper in their home city right away.”
Soriano has a no-trade clause. Would he consider playing for the Yankees again?
“I just focus, play baseball, play the game today,” he said. “If it happens, if I’m getting closer, I’ll think about it. Now, there’s nothing there. If the president and the GM don’t call my agent, it’s because nothing happened, nothing’s close. If it gets close, I want time to think about it. Now, there’s nothing to think about.”
It would be a homecoming for Soriano, who broke into the U.S. Major Leagues with the Yankees in 1999.
“That’s my first organization, and I enjoyed my time with the Yankees,” he said. “They have a very good team. They are the Yankees. They always make the playoffs, no matter what team they have, no matter what pitching they’ve got. They always find a way. It’s one of the best organizations in baseball.”
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs have made five trades this month, including Monday’s deal which sent Matt Garza to the Rangers. Could Alfonso Soriano be next? The Yankees, meanwhile, have been shut out eight times this season. Might they be serious about turning to a blast from the past to add some punch to their lineup?
The New York Post’s George King reported on Tuesday that the Yankees were “close” to acquiring Soriano from the Cubs. According to the Post, the Cubs would pay the bulk of the money remaining on Soriano’s contract. The 37-year-old outfielder is making $18 million this year, and owed $18 million in 2014. According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the key in the negotiations will be the amount of money the Cubs include in the deal. Both reports pointed out that the Yankees want to stay under the $189 million luxury-tax threshhold next season.
Speaking on MLB Network Radio Tuesday, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer called the reports about Soriano “very premature.”
“We’ve had some discussions with different teams about ‘Sori,’ and there’s nothing close at all,” Hoyer said. “It’s not nearly as advanced as reports have made it seem.”
Hoyer was headed to Arizona, and was expected to meet with Soriano, who was the subject of trade rumors last year.
“Last year, we took things to him on an individual basis when teams asked about him,” Hoyer said. “He’s got 10-5 [rights], he has the right, and has earned the right to veto deals. We’re not going to push him in any direction. we’ll certainly give him some of the teams that have inquired about him.”
The Cubs, who picked up four prospects in the Garza deal, will be looking for a top prospect. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman reports the Cubs scouted Triple-A right-hander Chase Whitley over the weekend. Whitley, 24, has a 3.52 ERA over 38 1/3 innings.
Soriano, who began his Major League career with the Yankees in 1999, does have a no trade clause. His name has been mentioned often in trade rumors.
“I don’t want to think about it, I don’t want to talk or hear my name at the Trade Deadline,” Soriano said on Monday. “It’s part of the game, but I’m not going to pay attention and just play my game and work hard.”
Soriano was batting .256 for the season, but has hit 10 home runs in his last 20 games, and was hitting .296 in that stretch with six doubles and 21 RBIs. He leads the Cubs with 17 home runs and 10 stolen bases, and ranks 57th on the all-time home run list with 389. Next up is the Yankees’ Graig Nettles at 390.
A move to an American League team would be a plus for Soriano, who has improved defensively. He has a career .379 average in 26 games as a designated hitter. He went 8-for-17 with two home runs in four games as the DH in Interleague play this season.
— Carrie Muskat
On Monday, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was suspended without pay for the remainder of the season for violating the Basic Agreement and its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Here’s some reaction from the Cubs:
* Manager Dale Sveum:
“It’s unfortunate for baseball, it’s unfortunate for the Brewers organization. I’m just glad it’s kind of finally over. Now he’s come out and obviously admitted it to the public and apologized. I think it’s the best thing to happen to Braun and the organization. He’ll be able to play Opening Day next year and everything is behind him as well as the organization and the players he let down … and the fans who have supported him for six years in the organization. At least now it’s finished, it’s over and they can move on.”
* Jeff Samardzija:
“It is what it is, I guess. You shouldn’t be taking things you shouldn’t be taking, connected to people you shouldn’t be connected to. Nowadays, you can’t hide from anything. That’s what it tells you is that everything you’re doing is going to be found out and going to be talked about.”
* Alfonso Soriano:
“I think sometimes people don’t realize how good they are. They want to go try something else. I just focus and try to do my job and not pay attention to what happens outside of baseball.
“I remember my first year, maybe people used [PEDs], but they didn’t have tests. Now they have tests and people have to be careful what they use, what they drink. It’s not the money, it’s not the suspension. For me personally, it’s family, friends, fans, what you do to your teammates, all that kind of stuff — the money is not important but how your family, how people want to treat your family, that’s hard. I never want to try to do anything negative because I did something wrong. I don’t want to do anything wrong to make it bad on myself or bad for my family.”
— Carrie Muskat
* Jeff Samardzija made two trips to Wrigley Field over the All-Star break to work with pitching coach Chris Bosio, and the sessions paid off on Friday. He gave up one run over 7 1/3 innings in leading the Cubs to a 3-1 victory over the Rockies.
“If you were to ask me all year how I felt about my mechanics, I’d say they were off all year, to tell you the truth, until today,” Samardzija told reporters in Denver, including MLB.com’s Ian McCue. “So I’m really excited to stop making adjustments and really just work on pitch selection and pitch location.
“I just attacked them and went at it and once I felt like I got them sped up, my splitter was good enough to get me through the rest of the inning,” Samardzija said.
The series-opening victory was the Cubs’ seventh in the last 10. The club is also improved 14 games over .500 when their starter earns a quality start.
Defense saved Chicago from throwing away the lead in the fourth. Michael Cuddyer punched a single to right after Troy Tulowitzki singled to a similar spot, and the Rockies shortstop was at third when a splitter skipped through the legs of catcher Wellington Castillo. But Castillo rifled a throw to Samardzija at home plate with enough velocity to tag out Tulowitzki and end the inning, the Cubs starter tumbling to the ground before walking to the dugout.
”That’s one of those things you don’t write up,” Samardzija said. “It’s just a freak play and it worked out in our favor.”
* Alfonso Soriano leads the Cubs with 17 home runs and 10 stolen bases, and he’s batting .319 (22-for-69) with five doubles, 10 homers, 20 RBI and a 1.169 OPS in his last 17 games since June 28. He has homered in five of his last 10 games, including multi-homer efforts July 6 vs. Pittsburgh and July 9 vs. the Angels.
Soriano is the fifth Cub to have entered the All-Star break with the team lead (or tied for the team lead) in both home runs and stolen bases, joining Augie Galan in 1937, George Altman in 1961, Ryne Sandberg in 1990, and Sammy Sosa in 1993, 1994 and 1998.
In addition to Soriano’s home run totals, he is 13 hits shy of becoming the 273rd player in Major League history to reach 2,000 hits. Only 15 active players have reached the milestone to date (Cleveland’s Jason Giambi has 1,991 hits).
* Junior Lake made his Major League debut Friday as the Cubs’ starting center fielder, going 3-for-4 with a double in his first plate appearance. Lake is the 44th player to appear for the Cubs this season, already just nine players shy of the franchise-record 53 players who appeared last year.
”Since I’ve been here that’s the first kid that’s come up and really looked like a Major Leaguer,” Dale Sveum said. “Was aggressive on the bases, did a great job. Swung the bat really nice.”
Before Friday’s game, Sveum thought about placing the speedy Lake in the leadoff spot. But that plan changed quickly when Lake told his skipper he planned to swing at the first pitch — and true to his words, he did — roping a double down the third-base line.
”I was just positive the whole time,” Lake said through a translator. “I think once you have that mindset going in the game, you’re ready for it and you have that kind of attitude, I think a lot of the things go your way.”
All-Star Travis Wood wraps up the Cubs’ first half on Sunday night when he faces the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright. The Cubs lead the series, 2-1. No Nate Schierholtz. Dale Sveum said he wanted to give him extra time to heal some nagging injuries, saying the right fielder is “banged up.” Here’s the lineup:
T. Wood P
* The Cubs are 13-8 in their last 21 games and have won six of the last eight.
* Wood looks to become the first Cub ever to record 18 quality starts prior to the All-Star break. His 17 quality starts this season lead the Majors, and he’s the fourth Cub in franchise history to have 17 quality efforts prior to the break, joining Bill Hands (1969), Fergie Jenkins (1969) and Greg Maddux (1988). The last National League pitcher to have 18 quality starts prior to the All-Star break was Maddux with the Braves in 1994.
* Alfonso Soriano leads the Cubs with 16 home runs and 10 stolen bases. The last Cub to lead the team in both homers and steals at the All-Star break was Sammy Sosa with 33 homers and 10 steals in 1998.
— Carrie Muskat