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Doogolas
07-01-2010, 01:48 AM
Win or lose, you can find Alfonso Soriano at his locker. He doesn’t hide out in the areas off-limits to the media. He will talk about Carlos Zambrano’s control issues, or his team’s lack of hitting, even if he doesn’t have any answers why.

Soriano will joke with the reporters covering Kosuke Fukudome -- in Japanese, using the language he picked up as a young player in Hiroshima. He will wink at a Chicago reporter and say, “What’s up, Papi?” or yell out to a clubhouse attendant, “Que pasa, man?”

Cubs fans couldn’t make it through the pregame introductions for the home opener on April 12 without booing Soriano. But the pressure of playing in the nation’s third-largest market -- or justifying the $18 million annual salary he will receive between 2010 and 2014 -- doesn’t seem to hang over him.

“Sometimes they boo -- it’s not because they hate me,” Soriano said. “It’s because they want me doing better, and the team, too. So I don’t take that personally, you know what I mean?

“They love the team, and they love the players, too, but [they’ll get] mad when we’re not doing well.”

Soriano is playing well enough to be considered a fringe candidate for the All-Star Game, which is a huge leap from where he was more than two months ago, when he was ripped for standing at the plate and admiring his shots to the outfield. Manager Lou Piniella was pulling him from games for defensive purposes and he was looking like a seven-inning player.

Now Soriano has emerged as a clubhouse spokesman, trying to smooth over the Zambrano incident, and a mentor to Starlin Castro.

Energized by Castro’s youth -- and pushed by how hard Marlon Byrd plays -- Soriano is hustling out of the box, stretching a single into a double and feeling healthy enough to run first to third.

“He pulls for his teammates regardless of how he’s doing,” Ted Lilly said. “He’s clearly a talented player [but] also a special individual, too, in the sense that I’ve always believed he’s one of those guys that makes the guys around him a little bit better.”

Lilly and Soriano played together nearly a decade ago in New York. At that time, former Yankees manager Joe Torre joked, Soriano would get a standing ovation in the dugout whenever he’d draw a walk.

In 2010, while working with trusted hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, Soriano has become a more patient hitter and a much tougher out.

Soriano is walking about 10 percent of the time -- or more than he ever had before in his career -- according to the website FanGraphs. The database also indicates that Soriano is swinging at less than half the pitches he sees, down from 59.1 percent in 2007, his first season on the North Side.

“When I have confidence in my hands,” Soriano said, “I just let the ball come to me.”

Two weeks ago, Soriano dropped his first sacrifice bunt since June 25, 2006, when he was in the middle of a 40-40 season with the Washington Nationals that helped net him a $136 million deal. That play earned him a standing ovation from sections of Wrigley Field.

“You never know with those fans,” Soriano said.

If that huge contract, which runs through 2014, makes him a target, then Soriano won’t let it bother him.

“That just shows you right there that he cares about us winning more than he cares about anything he does personally,” Ryan Dempster observed after watching the bunt. “I’ve always said that about him. He comes in with a smile on his face no matter what the result was -- good or bad -- the day before.”

During batting practice before a recent game at Wrigley Field, Soriano motioned for a young fan behind the ropes near the dugout to come over. In disbelief, the boy slowly walked to the batting cage and got an autograph.

Soriano is still a notoriously streaky hitter. With two home runs Tuesday night, he lifted his June average to .243. But he is on pace for a season that would look something like this: .280, 25-30 home runs and 80-85 RBIs.

Either way, Soriano will maintain the same personality and his moods won’t darken. This is a lesson Zambrano could draw upon whenever he returns.

“Everybody makes mistakes,” Soriano said. “You have to be the same guy no matter what.”

http://www.csnchicago.com/06/30/10/Rose-on-NBA-free-agency-with-Aggrey-Sam/landing.html?blockID=263949&feedID=661

I thought it was a pretty nice article.

AllStar44
07-01-2010, 01:58 AM
Great Post, really good read.

Makes me feel like a douche for baggin on the guy so much.

To go through what he has had to do in Chicago and yet still say he loves Chicago and was understanding during all the boos really shows how much class Sori has.

I'm glad he's having a much, much better year.

StrandedCub
07-01-2010, 02:14 AM
Soriano just seems like a good guy. He really is a class act. He has and will never get the recognition of a guy like Derrek Lee or Ryan Dempster for being such a classy guy but I think he is right up there with them. He has gotten just as much, if not more, **** then any player as during his time in Chicago. Instead of turning on the city and the fans, he is understanding and continues to smile and look on the positive side of things.

Though he may not be the most graceful LF in the game, he seems to be one of the more graceful human beings in the game.

Captain Obvious
07-01-2010, 02:19 AM
This. This is why he is my favorite player.

Yagyu+
07-01-2010, 02:28 AM
He's supposed to be a really genuine guy. I wound up riding the bus home with a member of the grounds-crew around this time last year.

I found the post. Here's what the conversation entailed:


Just got back from the game. Word was outside the stadium that it may be rescheduled for August or September?

The bus ride home was cool. I was sitting next to a member of the grounds crew. After some conversation he revealed that "the three nicest guys on the Cubs, by far, are [in order] Soriano, Lilly, and Dempster." He also said that Jim Edmonds is "a complete ^$$", and that while Bradley has his off days, he's "one of the more personable players with the crew."

When I reached my stop I asked him if he's ever helped Ted Lilly bury any bodies. All I got was a strange look.

But he didn't say no...

Is Castro still living with Soriano?

Milnertime
07-01-2010, 02:40 AM
The bit about his work with Rudy Jaramillo makes me wonder why Lee and Ramirez are refusing/refused to go to him, despite the fact that they are/were struggling big time.

ds637
07-01-2010, 04:49 AM
The bit about his work with Rudy Jaramillo makes me wonder why Lee and Ramirez are refusing/refused to go to him, despite the fact that they are/were struggling big time.

They have both been in the league 10+ years and have had great success doing what they have been doing. I understand why they are reluctant to switch things up.
Ramirez should try anything to come around at this point though.

Mell413
07-01-2010, 08:59 AM
I've met Soriano and he was nice to me so this article is not all that surprising.

BigRoy
07-01-2010, 11:48 PM
Soriano is my uncle

CubbieSteve
07-02-2010, 12:32 AM
Soriano is my uncle

BigRoy is my grandma

BobTheAutomator
07-02-2010, 01:18 AM
I heard Soriano was a dick about signing autographs and would totally overlook fans. That being said, I heard this from a chick who was a total Cubs groupie at spring training and tried to gangbang my friends and I.

Vandelay16
07-02-2010, 01:32 AM
Now I feel like a douche bashing him at the start of the year. I love you SORI!

Captain Obvious
07-02-2010, 01:52 AM
I heard Soriano was a dick about signing autographs and would totally overlook fans. That being said, I heard this from a chick who was a total Cubs groupie at spring training and tried to gangbang my friends and I.

Tried?

BUD Bleachers
07-02-2010, 04:58 AM
Awww. How sweet. You know the season blows when the media has to now write those "at least the Cubs have nice guys" articles.

It's great to see a professional athlete act like how a professional athlete is supposed to act, especially one from a foreign country making 8 digits per year here in the Heartland of the good old U.S. of A.

I've also read, and saw pictures in the past, in this very forum nonetheless, that Soriano was an adulterer.

Compare and contrast.

At least Jaramillo is coaching SOMEBODY on this team, apparently/reportedly.

Personally, I'll take a collection of flaming a-holes that actually kick-dick and win versus an amalgam of lap dogs that can only score 4 runs in a series at home against the Pirates en route to more futile lore.

At least Soriano accounted for half of the runs.

Str1fe5
07-02-2010, 09:58 AM
Awww. How sweet. You know the season blows when the media has to now write those "at least the Cubs have nice guys" articles.

It's great to see a professional athlete act like how a professional athlete is supposed to act, especially one from a foreign country making 8 digits per year here in the Heartland of the good old U.S. of A.

I've also read, and saw pictures in the past, in this very forum nonetheless, that Soriano was an adulterer.

Compare and contrast.

At least Jaramillo is coaching SOMEBODY on this team, apparently/reportedly.

Personally, I'll take a collection of flaming a-holes that actually kick-dick and win versus an amalgam of lap dogs that can only score 4 runs in a series at home against the Pirates en route to more futile lore.

At least Soriano accounted for half of the runs.

What does him being from another country have to do with anything?

Matchstckman
07-02-2010, 10:02 AM
What does him being from another country have to do with anything?

Nice to see him add xenophobia to his homophobia.

semperfi
07-02-2010, 11:02 AM
What does him being from another country have to do with anything?

One less job for that unemployed American that's what it has to do with him being from another country.

JimHendrysTummy
07-02-2010, 11:19 AM
One less job for that unemployed American that's what it has to do with him being from another country.

Really? It's unfortunate that sarcasm doesn't travel the internet well, because I can't tell if you're joking or not.

If you're serious, then... well, there's no need to point out how ridiculous this statement is.

Str1fe5
07-02-2010, 01:33 PM
One less job for that unemployed American that's what it has to do with him being from another country.

Yeah, I'm going to hope you're making an attempt at a joke.

Milnertime
07-02-2010, 02:34 PM
One less job for that unemployed American that's what it has to do with him being from another country.
Minor league players have jobs....

Acronym
07-02-2010, 07:18 PM
Minor league players have jobs....

He's obviously not talking about his baseball job. Soriano runs a churro stand on the near West side, taking jobs away from hard working, real Amurricans!