Plan for Cubs’ Alfonso Soriano: Less bat, more homers
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com May 13, 2012 9:00PM
MILWAUKEE, WI - MAY 13: Reed Johnson #5 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the top of the 5th inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on May 13, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
Updated: June 15, 2012 10:53AM
MILWAUKEE — Cubs manager Dale Sveum recently persuaded Alfonso Soriano to switch to a lighter bat.
And as the at-bats pile up without a home run for Soriano, Sveum wants to see an even more significant drop in weight.
‘‘He has adjusted a little bit, but I think even a really smaller, lighter bat would help a lot,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘He was OK with it, but he didn’t quite go as far as I wanted with the lighter bat.’’
Soriano, who has used one of the heaviest bats in the majors much of his career, went from 33½ ounces to 32 and said it’s working out all right. But to go any lighter than that, he said, ‘‘might start to be uncomfortable.’’
Sveum said he understands ‘‘those are harder things to get over than people think.’’ And maybe the smaller difference ultimately will be enough; Soriano hit the ball off the center-field wall for a double Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Soriano said he thinks the power outage is ‘‘more mental’’ at this point because he has gone so long without a homer. His last one came in his final at-bat of the 2011 season. The 112-at-bat drought is his longest to start a season and is his third-longest overall. He went 120 at-bats without a homer in 2009 and 184 in 2001, his first full season in the big leagues, 2001.
‘‘Whatever it is, it’s a strange phenomenon,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘[Milwaukee’s] Edwin Maysonet [with one] has more home runs than Alfonso Soriano right now. It’s tough to swallow because we’ve got to get some two- and three-run home runs out of that position, there’s no question about it.’’
Soriano said the first one will take care of the rest.
‘‘When I hit one, I want that monkey off my back,’’ he said.
Kerry Wood returned to the eighth inning Sunday, making quick work of the middle of the Brewers’ order when it was still a three-run game.
‘‘He was really sharp. He did a great job,’’ said Sveum, who was most encouraged by the fact it came after a two-inning appearance Friday night that started with two walks and nine straight balls.
Wood has battled minor shoulder issues since spring training.
‘‘He threw his curve ball today, cutter, had good velocity,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘That was really nice to see, to bounce back after a good outing last time — a two-inning good outing — and bounce back with another one.’’
The Cubs got solo home runs from Ian Stewart and Reed Johnson but still rank second-to-last in the National League with 21 homers.
‘‘Obviously, power has been an issue even with the weather,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘Hopefully, guys can get hot and drive the ball. We saw Sori drive the ball a couple times today, so hopefully that’s a good sign for us as well, because we’re going to need that power from him.’’
Dolis’ back better
Job-share closer Rafael Dolis, who had trouble loosening a sore back during a two-inning appearance Friday night, was ‘‘much better’’ Sunday and is expected to be available Monday in St. Louis.