Alfonso Soriano perplexed by power outage
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com May 12, 2012 12:32AM
Matt Garza hasn't pitched in a game since experiencing elbow stiffness July 21. | AP
The facts: 12:05 p.m., Fox-32, 720-AM.
The pitchers: Chris Volstad (0-4, 6.55 ERA) vs. Shaun Marcum (1-1, 3.41).
Updated: June 13, 2012 8:12AM
MILWAUKEE — When Alfonso Soriano popped to right in the second inning Friday night, he hit the century mark — 100 at-bats without a home run.
It’s his longest drought to start a season, longest overall in three seasons and just the third-longest of his career.
“I’m doing my job and working hard, but I don’t remember my last homer,’’ said the man who hit No. 340 of his career on the final day of last season.
Soriano’s power outage has been the most glaring hole in the Cubs’ offense, and Soriano is all but helpless to explain the reason, other than to say it’s not because of the sore left knee he has had the last couple of weeks.
“Things happen,’’ said Soriano, who had 10 in April alone last year. “I think I just put too much pressure on myself to try to do too much. I think when I hit my first homer, I’ll be fine. But now, five weeks that I haven’t hit one, I’m just trying to think too much and put too much pressure on myself.’’
He said he felt good at the plate a week ago when the Cubs opened a homestand against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but then he “just lost it’’ the next two days. Then he spent two of the three games against the Atlanta Braves giving the knee a rest, with an RBI double to right and a running, falling catch in left field in between.
Before leaving the game Friday in the 13th inning, Soriano’s drought reached 105 at-bats, 15 short of his 2009 dry spell. The longest of his career is 184, in 2001, his first full season in the big leagues.
But he’s not letting it bother him, he said.
“Not really. The team is playing good, and I’m playing good with my defense, so that’s more important,’’ he said. “There’s nothing like I feel bad. It just happens. People have that. If I hit my first one, I’ll be fine.
“I don’t want to look at it, I just want to try to hit the ball hard and help the team win.’’
Cubs manager Dale Sveum spent nearly as much time Friday shaking hands and chatting up old friends at Miller Park as he did anything else on his first game day back in Milwaukee since leaving the Brewers’ coaching staff for the Cubs.
“The past is the past now. But it seems weird that you’re not part of it anymore, especially when you come to this stadium,’’ he said. “I spent a lot of years in this city in the old stadium and new stadium. It is a part of you, there’s no doubt about it.’’
The Cubs have won three of their last five series and split the two others, their first streak of undefeated series that long since their 97-win season in 2008 (Sept. 9-25).
◆ Sveum said starting Welington Castillo behind the plate Friday was about finding a chance to help him get right at the plate against a lefty while getting Geovany Soto consecutive days off before Saturday’s noon game.