Back to baseball.
Poor Alfonso Soriano; he gets hurt trying to catch a fly ball, and instead of sympathy, he gets hammered. The Chicago Sun-Times, which (unlike the Chicago Tribune) doesn’t own the Cubs, ran this story:
You figured Monday night that [Chicago Cubs manager Lou] Piniella is starting to understand the weirdness of this job, something skippers never get until they sink their chops into it. With a touch of brilliance, he shook up his light-hitting lineup with unorthodox moves, most of which worked beautifully in a 12-4 ripping of the San Diego Padres. Yet his best idea of all — suggesting to slumping Alfonso Soriano that he abandon his circus-like experiment in center field so he can produce a few runs for his $136 million — fell upon deaf ears before the game. Crazily enough, the same superstar who pitched a fit when he was moved from second base to left field in Washington told Piniella that he likes center. ..
”What we want Soriano to do is hit and generate offense for us,” Piniella said of the 40-40 force, who has been picked off base more times [three] than his combined home-run [zero], RBI [one] and stolen-base totals [one]. ”I brought him in, and we had a nice conversation. I said, ‘Look, we’ll move you. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to feel comfortable at home plate and take that load off.’ But he said he feels comfortable in center field, so I left him there.”
Consider it Lou’s first lesson in bad Cubbie karma. For there was Soriano in the fifth inning, racing for a low liner off the bat of pitcher Clay Hensley. Soriano charged hard and tried to make a shoestring catch, but it was ruled he trapped the ball. When he came to his feet and threw, he slipped in the grass. As Piniella trotted to the infield to debate the call — no dirt kicked, no bases thrown, just a chorus of ”Louuuuu” — the all-too-familiar trainer, Mark O’Neal, rushed out to see why Soriano was limping.
Your answer: a strained left hamstring, which prompted the $136 million man to leave the field on his own power but shift to a more pronounced limp upon walking down the dugout stairs and into the tunnel.
I’m shocked by this development, of course, just shocked. Only two weeks into his Wrigley career, the most expensive player in franchise history is injured playing a position he shouldn’t be playing. Lou knew, but Alfonso didn’t listen. Will the Cubs be, um, Sorry-iano? The trainer says he is ”day to day,” but fans are excused for thinking the curse has bitten again. Kerry Wood and Mark Prior are long gone, perhaps never to return with arm injuries. So the damned goat needed another target. Why wouldn’t it be Soriano?
And just remember, he’s under contract for eight years.
Lou Pinella gets zero sympathy from me; see this post and comments. Soriano belongs in left field, batting 5th or sixth. And you don’t ask AS to make a position change. You tell him. The Rangers and the Nationals could have told Pinella that.
This injury will certainly accomplish the outfield switch. And I expect that the hamstring would be a good excuse to drop him down in the order. If so, this could be a fortunate thing for the Cubs. Soriano is certainly not helping where he is. And it will be a good thing for AS; his numbers were going to be miserable anyway, but now he has an excuse. Good for him.
Meanwhile, the Cubs fans should be gathering their torches and pitchforks and heading for the Cubs’ office suite. But they won’t. Cause they’re used to it…they think it’s ‘The Curse.” Ha.