Alfonso Soriano reaffirms desire to remain with Cubs
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com January 18, 2013 11:32PM
Cubs hitter Alfonso Soriano belts a two-run homer in the fourth inning of the Chicago Cubs-Philadelphia Phillies baseball game Tuesday May 16, 2012 at Wrigley Field. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times
Updated: January 19, 2013 6:13PM
If he was surprised, he didn’t admit it, but Alfonso Soriano seemed relieved to still be wearing a Cubs uniform for the opening of the Cubs Convention on Friday.
‘‘I’m very happy,’’ said Soriano, who was told at the end of last season that the Cubs would consider trade possibilities over the winter for the big-ticket left fielder with two years, $36 million left on his eight-year, $136 million deal.
‘‘Always, I want to stay here and finish my career here,’’ he added, ‘‘and try to win before I retire, because I signed here to get to a World Series and win in Chicago. That was my decision. If they win, I want to be part of that team.’’
Despite the drive for his first World Series appearance since 2003 with the Yankees, he said he has no regrets about using his no-trade rights to nix a deal last summer that would have sent him to the eventual champion San Francisco Giants.
‘‘I said no to the trade to the Giants because the weather in San Francisco is not good for my body, especially my knee,’’ Soriano, 37, said. ‘‘The weather is worse than here.’’
The Cubs cleared the decks with all their potential arbitration cases before players arrived at the convention.
Matt Garza got a
$10.25 million deal done late Thursday before the Cubs settled with right-hander Jeff Samardzija ($2.64 million) and left-hander James Russell ($1.075 million) on a pair of one-year deals.
Samardzija, in his first year of arbitration eligibility after finishing the four-year, $10 million deal he signed after being drafted in 2006, makes the same base salary as last year, with an added incentives package worth a possible $125,000.
The Cubs and Samardzija discussed a multi-year deal early in the offseason without significant progress. Samardzija says he remains open to more talks.
Cubs over country
Soriano and All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro both declined invitations to play for their native Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic this spring.
For Soriano, it was about taking care of his aging body in an attempt to replicate his 2012 season with 30 homers, 100 RBI and born-again defense
Castro said it’s all about focusing on the Cubs for him, despite urging from family and friends to play.
‘‘It was difficult for me because I’ve always had the dream to play for my country,’’ Castro said. ‘‘It’s more important for me to be in spring training to be ready for this team than sit on the bench behind [Dominican starter Jose Reyes].’’
Third baseman Ian Stewart, who seemed out of the 2013 picture after spending the final 3½ months of the 2012 season at home recovering from wrist surgery, said he’s been working out and swinging a bat since being medically cleared in November and ready for his first healthy season in three years.
‘‘I really believe I’ve gotten that taken care of,’’ he said.
The Cubs agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with him last month.
◆ Garza said he’s ahead of his usual throwing pace at this time of the winter, despite having finished last season on the DL (elbow), and said there’s no question in his mind that he’ll be ready to start the season on time.
‘‘I feel good. Strong. And healed,’’ he said.