Alfonso Soriano Off To Hot Start In Cactus League

By Randy Holt

With such an exciting offseason for the Chicago Cubs over the course of this winter, fans have been asking for just one more action to take place: a trade of Alfonso Soriano.

The Cubs have already rid themselves of a distraction in Carlos Zambrano, as well as another supposedly “me” player in Aramis Ramirez, while bringing their payroll down drastically from what it’s been in recent years.

Many fans feel that a trade of Soriano would complete what Theo Epstein and co. are trying to do in their first year at the helm of the Cubs. Soriano is due another $50 million-plus on his eight-year deal, which has three remaining on it. The Cubs were believed to be shopping Soriano this winter, but were unable to find a team willing to take on a chunk of that money.

So it appears that the Cubs, and their fans, are stuck with Soriano catching fly balls in left field for the time being, until the trade deadline at the very least. But if Soriano keeps hitting like he’s started off in the Cactus League, that might not be such a bad thing.

It’s still early in the spring, and it’s obviously still exhibition games, but Soriano has started off this first week with a .545 average. He’s popped a few home runs, as well as a double on Friday in the Cubs’ win over the White Sox.

Much of that early success is due to one simple adjustment. Know that giant leg kick Soriano has when he swings? He’s shortened that up, and the results have been immediate. It’s an adjustment that makes perfect sense, given that the kick slows down the swing, which has an effect as the body ages, which raises the question as to how it took so long to make it.

We still don’t know where Soriano is going to hit in the lineup. He could hit first, he could hit fourth. Either one is less than ideal for the Cubs right now, but if he could rake like this, he’d be great in the middle of the Cubs order, with David DeJesus and Starlin Castro hitting in front of him, in some fashion.

Add Soriano’s adjustments at the plate to his hard work in the outfield, and it shows that this is clearly a guy who’s out to prove somebody wrong. Or everybody.

Soriano may very well find his way out of Chicago before the season is over. But if the Cubs have any hope of being competitive at all in 2012, Soriano’s bat might be a nice place to start. And, at least early on this spring, it’s looking like it could surprise some folks.

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