Soriano Plays in Peoria
Hitting lead-off and serving as the DH, Alfonso Soriano got into his first game action in almost six weeks, as the AZL Cubs defeated the AZL Padres 6-3 at Padres Field #1 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, AZ this morning.
Soriano arrived shortly after the rest of the AZL Cubs team, apparently getting a ride to the game from the team hotel in central Phoenix without stopping first at Fitch Park.
Soriano participated in the usual pre-game on-field stretching exercises, and then the Padres kindly allowed him to take some swings in their enclosed batting cages located adjacent to the field, since Soriano did not have an opportunity to take pre-game BP with the rest of the team at Fitch Park.
Hitting lead-off in three different innings, Soriano went 0-2 with a F-9 fly out, a strike out (swinging), and a walk. He also scored a run.
Soriano left the game after his 3rd AB in the top of the 5th, presumably headed back to the Ritz Carlton for lunch. I would think Soriano will then accompany his Chicago Cubs teammates to Chase Field, where he will possibly take some additional pre-game BP prior to tonight's Cubs-D'backs game.
If he is so inclined, he could be the DH in tomorrow morning's AZL Cubs game at Fitch Park, and still have time to hitch a ride down I-10 to Tucson in the afternoon where he could play LF and hit lead-off for the Iowa Cubs in their game versus the Tucson Sidewinders at Tucson Electric Park tomorrow night.
It's always a thrill for the AZL Cubs (who are mainly teenagers) when there is a big leaguer in their midst, but having Soriano around was especially exciting for the young Cubs Dominican players, who hold Soriano up as a national hero. And since AZL Cubs RF Nelson Perez is (like Felix Pie) a protege of Soriano's, he was REALLY stoked.
Here is the pitch-by-pitch log of Soriano's three at-bats this morning in Peoria.
(All three ABs were against AZL Padres RHP Junior Veras).
1ST AB (leading off 1st inning):
PITCH 1: Ball one (fastball up & in, chin music)
PITCH 2: Ball two (fastball up)
PITCH 3: Strike one (called, right down the middle of the plate)
PITCH 4: Strike two (fouled straight back)
PITCH 5: Ball in play (lazy fly ball caught by right-fielder in front of warning track in straight-away RF)
2ND AB (leading off 3rd inning):
PITCH 1: Strike one (right down the middle of the plate)
PITCH 2; Strike two (fouled straight back)
PITCH 3: Foul (line drive hooked into LF bullpen)
PITCH 4: Ball one (outside)
PITCH 5: Foul (fouled straight back)
PITCH 6: Foul (line drive hooked into LF bullpen)
PITCH 7: Strike three (swing & miss, breaking ball in dirt)
OUTCOME: Strike out (swinging)
3RD AB (leading off 5th inning):
PITCH 1: Strike one (pop foul over 1st base dugout)
PITCH 2: Strike two (swing & miss, breaking ball in dirt)
PITCH 3: Ball one (high fastbal)
PITCH 4: Ball two (breaking ball outside)
PITCH 5: Ball three (fastball up)
PITCH 6: Ball four (fastball outside)
OUTCOME: Walked, and then scored on a two-run HR by the next batter, Starlin Castro.
Generally, Soriano looked somewhat rusty and his timing was a bit off, but at least he did get to face some "live" pitching in a game action setting.
And I'm glad he agreed to do his "rehab" in the minor leagues this time, instead of trying to come back "cold" to the big leagues with no minor league ABs like he did the last time he was on the DL.
Today also marked the 2008 debut of Cubs 2006 12th round draft pick RHP Kitt Kopach (Illinois State), who hadn't thrown in a game for nearly two years after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery prior to last season, and the professional debut of Cubs 2008 3rd round draft pick RHP Aaron Shafer (Wichita State). Kopach and Shafer worked one scoreless/hitless inning a piece, each issuing one walk. Shafer also had an inning-ending strikeout.
Only 1st round pick RHP Andrew Cashner (TCU) has yet to make his pro debut from among the pitchers signed by the Cubs out of last month's draft, and I would think Cashner will probably get into his first game action sometime this week.
Starlin Castro and Nelson Perez provided most of the AZL Cubs offense today, with Castro going 3-3 with two walls and a two-run HR, and N. Perez adding a garagantuan solo HR over the CF fence in the 9th (albeit after Soriano had already left). Perez presently leads the AZL in slugging (822) and triples (8), and is second in HR (6) and OPS (1.208), trailing only teammate John Contreras in HR and teammate Jericho Jones in OPS
The Cubs had some good runs and nice winning streaks that propelled them to the playoffs. Austin Jackson wasn't part of that. I don't quite understand what it is about Jackson that they are so enamored with.
I think the strike zone was very inconsistent, but it's hard to blame the loss on the ump. They had chances and mistake pitches and just couldn't cash in. Lackey ran the ball inside and outside very effectively.
Correct. Castro 5th, AJax 6th; I'll edit my lineup post to fix this.
Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, Castro, AJax, Montero, Hendricks, Russell
if he put ajax 1st/2nd in the f'n playoffs he deserves to lose his nearly sure-thing MOY award to terry collins.
I believe Castro batting fifth, Ajax (LF) sixth
Maddon did not listen to me yesterday re Strop, or EricS on Schwarbs today.
Wtf is up w/that?!
Crunch got his wish - Ajax not hitting 1-2 in the lineup ...
I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.