Results tagged ‘ Alfonso Soriano ’
Starlin Castro recognized that he needed to make an adjustment, and he did. Castro hit a RBI single in the third inning Friday against the Pirates. But he changed his approach slightly in the sixth. The Cubs had one on and two outs when Jared Hughes took over. His first pitch hit Alfonso Soriano, and Castro launched the next pitch into the left field bleachers for his home run and a 7-3 lead. But Castro’s at-bat was key not just because of the cushion but because he recognized that he needed to alter his stance.
“That’s one of the best guys out of the bullpen,” Castro said of Hughes. “He throws a sinker, and the ball moves down hard. That’s why I was ready at home plate. I said, I don’t want to do a leg kick because I don’t want to be late. So I did one step and swung the bat.”
Sveum has suggested more than once that Castro needs to get rid of the leg kick.
“Those are the kind of things you’re looking for to see guys making adjustments from pitcher to pitcher,” Sveum said. “That’s when you start to grow as a player when you start doing those kind of things.”
Castro, who led the National League in hits last season, isn’t about to give up his kick totally.
“If a guy is nasty, I [don't use the leg kick],” Castro said. “I do that with [Aroldis] Chapman, too. If you do a leg kick, you don’t have a chance with a guy who throws 98 [mph]. [Hughes] doesn’t throw 98, but he throws 94 and it’s nasty.”
Castro has posted .300 batting averages in his first two seasons in the big leagues. He’s sticking with what’s comfortable.
“I’ve been doing my leg kick all my life,” he said. “I got 200 hits last year with the leg kick. I know it can work but I don’t want to be thinking too much.”
He did admit to thinking too much about his new contract, which was resolved on Aug. 28 when he signed a seven-year, $60 million deal.
“I put pressure on myself,” Castro said. “When my agent told me [about the contract], he told me not to think too much about that. I said, ‘Don’t call me. I don’t want it to be a distraction.’”
It was. From July 1 until Aug. 27, Castro batted .240 with a .694 OPS. Since he signed his deal on Aug. 28, he was batting .319 with an .881 OPS.
“Not anymore,” Castro said.
– Carrie Muskat
Got a question for the Cubs Inbox? Send it to CubsInbox@gmail.com, and please include your full name and hometown.
Q: The 2012 season isn’t over with but I’d like to think next year will be better. My question is what do you think the 2013 Opening Day lineup will look like? — Ty S., West Des Moines, IA
A: Here’s an early guess:
RF David DeJesus
2B Darwin Barney
1B Anthony Rizzo
LF Alfonso Soriano
SS Starlin Castro
After that, I don’t know. These final weeks are huge for players like Welington Castillo, Steve Clevenger, Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters and Luis Valbuena.
Q: It’s time to start purchasing jerseys for the future. Before I buy a Josh Vitters or Brett Jackson uniform, what are the chances they change their numbers? — Clay B., Paris, IL
A: Clubhouse manager Tom Hellmann asks the young players each spring what number they’d like if they make it to the big leagues, and since Vitters and Jackson were given single digits, not No. 88 or No. 75, I’d guess they’ll stick with Nos. 5 and 7, respectively. That said, you never know what will happen if the Cubs sign a veteran, and he has always worn No. 5.
Q: Against the Reds on Aug. 9, Steve Clevenger was ejected during an at-bat and replaced with Welington Castillo. Castillo struck out, which was charged to Clevenger. To whom would a walk, hit, put out or other play be charged? — Marvin W., Bellingham, WA
A: If Castillo had walked or gotten a hit or grounded out, he would’ve been credited. According to Rule 10.17 (b): When the batter leaves the game with two strikes against him, and the substitute batter completes a strikeout, charge the strikeout and the time at-bat to the first batter. If the substitute batter completes the turn at-bat in any other manner, including a base on balls, score the action as having been that of the substitute batter.
Q: Would you know the dates for next year’s Cubs Convention? — Ben
A: Jan. 18-20, 2013.
Q: What is the all-time (not single-season) record of error-less games played by an infielder? — Ethan J., Chicago
A: According to the Elias Sports Bureau:
1B: Casey Kotchman, 274 games, 2008-2010
2B: Placido Polanco, 186 games, 2006-08
3B: Jeff Cirillo, 99 games, 2001-02, and John Wehner, 99 games, 1992-2000
SS: Mike Bordick, 110 games, 2002
Q: How do you feel about Adam Greenberg trying to make a comeback? Is there any chance now that the Cubs are out of the playoffs they will give Adam a chance? — Yoel G., Hollywood, FL
A: For Greenberg to play for a Major League team, it would mean someone would have to be taken off the 40-man roster. I was there when Greenberg was hit, and certainly hoped he would have another at-bat. Right now, it feels like a publicity stunt.
Q: I know the new management wants to build the club from within and help improve the club by improving the Minor League system but do you think they could at least bring in a couple free agent pitchers to help some of the young guys develop? I don’t know how beneficial it is for players like Brooks Raley and Chris Rusin to be lit up by Major League lineups when they are clearly not ready. — Joe S., Lansing, MI
A: I wish pitchers like Rusin and Raley and Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood had someone like Ryan Dempster or Paul Maholm around to help them deal with the ups and downs in the big leagues. The front office will likely look at adding more experience for the rotation next season, either through free agency or a trade. What you hope is that Raley and Rusin learn from this experience, learn what they need to do, and become better for it.
– Carrie Muskat
Who’s providing the offense on the Cubs? It’s 36-year-old Alfonso Soriano. He has 96 RBIs, his highest single-season total in six years with the Cubs and the most since he drove in 95 in 2006 with Washington. He hit his 29th home run on Wednesday, the most since Soriano hit 29 in 2008. The veteran outfielder is one of only three players in the National League this season to thus far reach 29 home runs and 95 RBIs, joining the Reds’ Jay Bruce and the Brewers’ Ryan Braun.
On the Cubs’ 10-game road trip, Soriano was 10-for-39 with four home runs, a triple, a double, and 11 RBIs. He has 25 RBIs in his last 24 games, and was tied for fourth in the NL in home runs with Carlos Beltran, Jason Kubel, and Adam LaRoche.
Soriano’s home run Wednesday was No. 369 of his career, and he’s now tied with Ralph Kiner for 72nd on the all-time home run list.
– Carrie Muskat
Alfonso Soriano picked the right NFL jersey to wear on Sunday. The Cubs players celebrated the start of pro football season by wearing their favorite jerseys, and Soriano picked Deion Sanders, Mr. Prime Time. Soriano was the Cubs’ prime time player on Sunday, hitting a tie-breaking two-run home run. He’s now closing in on 100 RBIs for the first time since 2005. Soriano, who didn’t hit his first homer of the season until May 15, now has 94 RBIs, the most in a single-season since he drove in 95 in 2006 with the Nationals.
“It’s like he’s on a mission right now,” Dale Sveum said. “Since May 15, him and [the Brewers' Ryan] Braun are neck and neck in RBIs and homers. Sori’s had one heck of a 4 1/2 months to this point. It’s been pretty spectacular.”
He’s definitely not feeling his age.
“I’m 36 years old, working, and I don’t feel like 36,” Soriano said. “I have my hands and my power and that’s more important. I want to prove to my teammates and people outside that I’m 36 but I don’t feel like I’m 36 and I can do a lot of things in this game.”
– Carrie Muskat
* The Cubs are aiming at their third-straight win on the road for the first time since June 10 (Minnesota) and June 18-19 (White Sox). They are trying for their first series sweep on the road since August 1-4, 2010, in Pittsburgh (four games). * On Saturday, the Cubs won their third road game in 19 games since the start of August. They have dropped 20 of 25 road games since the All-Star break
* Alfonso Soriano hit his 27th home run on Saturday. He now has 92 RBIs, his most in a single-season in his six years with the Cubs, and most since 95 RBI in 2006 with Washington.
* Rookie outfielder Brett Jackson, who bruised his right knee crashing into the wall on Friday, was moving much better on Sunday but not expected back in the Cubs lineup until Tuesday at the earliest. The Cubs face left-handed pitchers on Sunday and Monday, and Jackson would not start against them. Sveum said they’d re-evaluate in Houston.
* The Cubs players will be wearing NFL jerseys on the flight from Pittsburgh to Houston. It’s NFL Sunday. Sveum is a Raiders fan, so he has a Kenny Stabler jersey.
“I don’t quite have his hair,” Sveum said.
Soriano picked Deion “Prime Time” Sanders, and several players got Steelers jerseys because they were available in Pittsburgh. Joe Mather has a Troy Polamalu jersey, but he got it before this trip.
“I’m a real Steelers fan,” Mather said.
– Carrie Muskat
Jeff Samardzija may have finally convinced people he picked the right sport. He threw his first career complete game and the first by a Cubs pitcher this season in his final start, notching the win in a 4-3 victory over the Pirates.
“That was pretty impressive,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “I think he knew he had 125 pitches to get it done in, and he did it right there.”
Alfonso Soriano hit his 27th home run and David DeJesus hit a tie-breaking RBI single in the eighth to back Samardzija, who threw 120 pitches, 81 for strikes. With the win, the Cubs posted their first back-to-back wins on the road since July 23-24, which also came at PNC Park.
Samardzija is done because he’s reached his innings limit for the season. The right-hander is not coming off surgery like the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg. This is just a precautionary move in Samardzija’s first season as a starter. He admitted to reflecting on how far he’s come when he took the mound for the ninth, and thought about the pressure he put on himself this year to perform.
“I wanted to prove I could be the guy they needed me to be and I didn’t want to leave any question marks out there,” Samardzija said.
Said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle: “The guy over there, that’s a special arm.”
Samardzija struck out nine in his 17th quality start, and finished with 174 2/3 innings, more than twice as many as he totaled last season (88) when he pitched in relief. The right-hander began this year with 169 2/3 career innings in the big leagues over four seasons.
“He mixes his pitches well,” Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez said. “He’s got a good fastball, and he just competes well. He keeps the ball down, and makes good pitches when he needs them. Anytime anyone can do that, makes him tough to hit. He hit the strike zone pretty much the whole game.”
What the Cubs want next season is for Samardzija to do in six months what he did in the second half, which was post a 2.58 ERA. He won’t have to battle for one of the five spots in the rotation, and could be the Opening Day starter.
“I knew what I needed to do and I knew I had a lot of question marks around myself coming into the year,” Samardzija said. “I knew where I was going as a pitcher and the direction I was going and wanted to keep improving and get that experience late in games. You really want the staff and everyone to know they can trust you and keep giving you the ball.”
– Carrie Muskat
Alfonso Soriano is one of six players in Major League history to reach at least 350 home runs, 400 doubles, 250 stolen bases, 1,000 RBIs and 1,000 runs scored. He joinsWillie Mays, Andre Dawson, Gary Sheffield, Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez. Now in his sixth season with the Cubs, Soriano has joined Dawson as the only two players in Cubs history to reach 20 home runs in each of his first six seasons with the club. Soriano’s 158 Cubs home runs already rank 13th on the team all-time.
With 27 games still to play this season, Soriano enters Wednesday’s game with 26 home runs and 88 RBIs in 2012, identical numbers to his 2011 season-ending totals. The 88 RBIs each of his last two seasons represent his highest single-season totals with the Cubs. Soriano’s average of one home run per 18.63 at bats with the Cubs is the sixth-best mark in franchise history (minimum 100 home runs), trailing only Sammy Sosa, Hank Sauer, Hack Wilson, Aramis Ramirez and Ernie Banks.
– Carrie Muskat
Alfonso Soriano hit a three-run home run, his 25th, in the fifth inning Sunday. He’s the 10th player with at least four 25-home run seasons with the Cubs, joining Sammy Sosa, Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Aramis Ramirez, Ryne Sandberg, Hank Sauer, Bill Nicholson, and Hack Wilson. Soriano connected off the Giants’ Matt Cain.
“I just work hard to be a consistent player,” Soriano said. “I love what I do, and work hard every day to be consistent. The most important thing is to try to help the team win. If I put up good numbers, I can help the team win.”
When he walked out of the trainer’s room after Sunday’s game, Soriano was limping. That’s because he’d just received more treatment for his left knee, a ritual that requires him to be at the ballpark about two to three hours before everyone else. It’s not a big deal, he said.
“I play this game with my heart,” Soriano said. “Anything I do on the field is because I love it. If I’m healthy and play 130 games, 140 games, I know my numbers are there.”
Cain was hoping the elements would keep Soriano’s home run in the ballpark.
“You turn around and hope the wind catches it,” Cain said. “But when he gets a hold of the ball, I don’t think it matters if the wind’s blowing. He put a good swing on that ball and got all of it.”
– Carrie Muskat
Now that Dale Sveum has seen the team for five months, what areas does he feel they’ve made the most improvement in?
“I think the most progress is definitely the defense,” Sveum said Sunday. “For the most part, we’ve had a couple ugly games, and for the other 130 games, we’ve played pretty solid defense, especially up the middle with [Starlin] Castro and [Darwin] Barney and [David] DeJesus and even [Alfonso] Soriano. For what his legs can do, he’s played heck of a left field.”
Barney has gone a National League single-season record 117-straight games without an error at second base heading into Sunday’s game. That tops David Eckstein’s mark of 113-consecutive games set with the Padres in 2010. Soriano is the only Major League left fielder to have handled at least 150 total chances without an error this season. He made a great catch to end the Giants fourth inning on Sunday, robbing Matt Cain of potential extra bases.
Last year, the Cubs finished last in the National League in fielding percentage, committing 134 errors. This season, they are 10th in fielding percentage and have made 85 errors.
– Carrie Muskat
Alfonso Soriano looked motivated on Friday. The Giants considered him in their pursuit of another bat, but they knew he wasn’t keen on the idea because of the San Francisco weather. He has cleared waivers. Teams had until 10:59 p.m. CT Friday to trade for players to be eligible on the postseason rosters.
“It’s very hard to play on the West Coast, especially on that field,” Soriano said. “It’s nothing against the team — they have a very good team. It’s more the city because of the weather. They have a very good team that’s in first place. I know if I go to San Francisco, I won’t feel comfortable in the city. I’d feel comfortable on the team, but not in the city.”
It’s nothing personal but the cold weather bothers Soriano’s left knee, not just his bat. It was hot at Wrigley on Friday. Soriano hit a two-out RBI single in the first off Madison Bumgarner (14-9), and also his 24th home run, a two-run shot, in the third.
“He’s hurt us over the years,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Soriano. “If you make a mistake, there’s a good chance you’re going to pay for it.”
As for being dealt this offseason, Soriano said he’ll wait and see.
“I like it here,” Soriano said. “I don’t like to lose, especially late in my career. I just want to go someplace to win. If it’s here, I’d be happy. We’ll see what happens.”
Because he has a no-trade clause, Soriano has the final say.
“It has to be a perfect place for me to go,” he said. “I don’t want to go anywhere for one month. If somebody picks me, it depends on the situation and that team.”
– Carrie Muskat