Soriano needs spring to get knee ready
Alfonso Soriano came to spring training Monday with his typical big smile and offered up a question mark about his surgically repaired left knee.
Soriano underwent arthroscopic surgery on the knee on Sept. 15. Four months later, he said he isn't sure when he'll be able to go full speed on it - not what fans were hoping to hear from a guy who played in only 117 games with the Cubs in 2009, batting .241 with 20 homers and 55 RBIs in the third season of an eight-year, $136 million contract.
Soriano said he has been working out in his native Dominican Republic. He said he's probably at about 80 percent or 85 percent but hasn't completely tested the knee by running the bases or chasing fly balls. He said he doesn't want to push things too quickly with a goal of being ready for opening day.
``We'll see when I test my knee running in the field and do some stuff I didn't do in the Dominican and my knee will tell me where I'm at,'' Soriano said.
He's been taking batting practice with no pain, and acknowledges that some of his concern is mental.
``I don't know what I will feel tomorrow when I put on my uniform and start running,'' he said.
No longer the bases stealer he once was - he's swiped only 46 combined over the last three years, just five more than he had in all of 2006 with the Nationals - Soriano has been dropped out of the leadoff spot. He'll bat either fifth or sixth, giving more opportunities to drive in runs.
And he'll be reunited with former Texas hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, who knows his swing well.
Soriano heard the boos last season from fed-up Cubs fans, especially after Chicago missed the playoffs after winning back-to-back division titles. Soriano's big contract and his struggles made him a target.
It was obvious, at times, that his knee was bothering him, especially in the outfield.
``This game is tough to play and when you have something on your mind, it's tougher,'' the 34-year-old Soriano said. ``I'm not making excuses about my knee. ... When they boo me, it pushes me to be a better player.''
New Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is expected to arrive Tuesday when the Cubs have their first full-squad workout. He will likely address the team. Manager Lou Piniella will be among those interested in hearing what his new boss has to say.
``It will be new a new start for Cub baseball, and I think it's going to be a really good thing,'' Piniella said Monday as rain forced the Cubs to take batting practice in the cages.