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