Alfonso Soriano on Zambrano and Ramirez: It’s time to move on
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Gwittenmyer@suntimes.com February 24, 2012 10:42PM
Updated: March 26, 2012 8:13AM
MESA, Ariz. — Considering the emphasis on the new direction the Cubs are taking — not to mention a significant de-emphasis of some old clubhouse presences — Alfonso Soriano had a right to be the most surprised Cub to still have a uniform and locker stall at Fitch Park this spring.
But the Cubs’ sudden eldest statesman among position players said the winter trade rumors don’t concern him nearly as much as his intention of becoming a leader by example for a new-attitude Cubs team.
As he arrived in camp for the first day of full-squad workouts Friday, Soriano said that’s a role new team president Theo Epstein suggested ‘‘because a lot of people respect me because of the way I work, and they know I’m not a lazy guy. …
‘‘The last couple of years, we had a nice group, but some people didn’t give you 100 percent. This group is young, and they’re hungry to play. We’re here to compete.’’
And he likes some of the addition-by-subtraction by the new front office, including sending Carlos Zambrano to the Miami Marlins.
‘‘I think they made a very good move to trade Z,’’ Soriano said. ‘‘I don’t know if [Zambrano] was not happy or what here. But the things that he did here, nobody was happy [about]. I think the team’s happy they were able to trade him, and I think that Z’s happy, too, that he’s in Miami. I hope that’s [good for both], and we will not miss him.’’
He said he hasn’t talked to Zambrano or longtime third baseman Aramis Ramirez since their departures.
‘‘It’s time to move on,’’ he said. ‘‘Now I have to focus on the new team as they have it here and not think about my old teammates.’’
Time is now?
For his first spring speech, manager Dale Sveum listed the Cubs’ strengths at each position, from its All-Star catcher to its hit-king shortstop, 340-homer left fielder, playoff-MVP pitcher and hard-throwing late-inning relief crew.
‘‘Just let them know that’s a team that can compete and do really well,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘We’re not here to rebuild. We’re here to try to win the World Series this year.’’