Soriano Plays in Peoria

Hitting lead-off and serving as the DH, Alfonso Soriano got into his first game action in almost six weeks, as the AZL Cubs defeated the AZL Padres 6-3 at Padres Field #1 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, AZ this morning.

Soriano arrived shortly after the rest of the AZL Cubs team, apparently getting a ride to the game from the team hotel in central Phoenix without stopping first at Fitch Park.

Soriano participated in the usual pre-game on-field stretching exercises, and then the Padres kindly allowed him to take some swings in their enclosed batting cages located adjacent to the field, since Soriano did not have an opportunity to take pre-game BP with the rest of the team at Fitch Park. 

Hitting lead-off in three different innings, Soriano went 0-2 with a F-9 fly out, a strike out (swinging), and a walk. He also scored a run.

Soriano left the game after his 3rd AB in the top of the 5th, presumably headed back to the Ritz Carlton for lunch. I would think Soriano will then accompany his Chicago Cubs teammates to Chase Field, where he will possibly take some additional pre-game BP prior to tonight's Cubs-D'backs game.

If he is so inclined, he could be the DH in tomorrow morning's AZL Cubs game at Fitch Park, and still have time to hitch a ride down I-10 to Tucson in the afternoon where he could play LF and hit lead-off for the Iowa Cubs in their game versus the Tucson Sidewinders at Tucson Electric Park tomorrow night.

It's always a thrill for the AZL Cubs (who are mainly teenagers) when there is a big leaguer in their midst, but having Soriano around was especially exciting for the young Cubs Dominican players, who hold Soriano up as a national hero. And since AZL Cubs RF Nelson Perez is (like Felix Pie) a protege of Soriano's, he was REALLY stoked.  

Here is the pitch-by-pitch log of Soriano's three at-bats this morning in Peoria.

(All three ABs were against AZL Padres RHP Junior Veras). 

1ST AB (leading off 1st inning):
PITCH 1: Ball one (fastball up & in, chin music)
PITCH 2: Ball two (fastball up)
PITCH 3: Strike one (called, right down the middle of the plate)
PITCH 4: Strike two (fouled straight back)
PITCH 5: Ball in play (lazy fly ball caught by right-fielder in front of warning track in straight-away RF)

OUTCOME: F-9

2ND AB (leading off 3rd inning):
PITCH 1: Strike one (right down the middle of the plate)
PITCH 2; Strike two (fouled straight back) 
PITCH 3: Foul (line drive hooked into LF bullpen)
PITCH 4: Ball one (outside)
PITCH 5: Foul (fouled straight back)
PITCH 6: Foul (line drive hooked into LF bullpen) 
PITCH 7: Strike three (swing & miss, breaking ball in dirt)

OUTCOME: Strike out (swinging)
 
3RD AB (leading off 5th inning):
PITCH 1: Strike one (pop foul over 1st base dugout)
PITCH 2: Strike two (swing & miss, breaking ball in dirt)  
PITCH 3: Ball one (high fastbal)
PITCH 4: Ball two (breaking ball outside)
PITCH 5: Ball three (fastball up)
PITCH 6: Ball four (fastball outside)

OUTCOME: Walked, and then scored on a two-run HR by the next batter, Starlin Castro.

Generally, Soriano looked somewhat rusty and his timing was a bit off, but at least he did get to face some "live" pitching in a game action setting. 

And I'm glad he agreed to do his "rehab" in the minor leagues this time, instead of trying to come back "cold" to the big leagues with no minor league ABs like he did the last time he was on the DL.

Today also marked the 2008 debut of Cubs 2006 12th round draft pick RHP Kitt Kopach (Illinois State), who hadn't thrown in a game for nearly two years after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery prior to last season, and the professional debut of Cubs 2008 3rd round draft pick RHP Aaron Shafer (Wichita State). Kopach and Shafer worked one scoreless/hitless inning a piece, each issuing one walk. Shafer also had an inning-ending strikeout.

Only 1st round pick RHP Andrew Cashner (TCU) has yet to make his pro debut from among the pitchers signed by the Cubs out of last month's draft, and I would think Cashner will probably get into his first game action sometime this week. 

Starlin Castro and Nelson Perez provided most of the AZL Cubs offense today, with Castro going 3-3 with two walls and a two-run HR, and N. Perez adding a garagantuan solo HR over the CF fence in the 9th (albeit after Soriano had already left). Perez presently leads the AZL in slugging (822) and triples (8), and is second in HR (6) and OPS (1.208), trailing only teammate John Contreras in HR and teammate Jericho Jones in OPS

box score

Comments

h/t

Thanks AZ Phil.

Woo hoo! An AZ Phil sighting -- along with his trademark detailed reportage. (I'm currently in love with that word)

Phil is silent for a day or so and the TCR blogosphere goes into a panic. Thanks for saving us in our anxiety, AZ Phil! ~tongue in cheek~

"PITCH 7: Strike three (swing & miss, breaking ball in dirt)

...

Generally, Soriano looked a bit rusty...."

Rusty? Sounds like he's in mid-season form to me.

I keed, I keed. :D

Fantastic, thank you very much for the detailed report, Arizona Phil.

Great to see Kopach and Shafer get in there too.

Quick question...Alex Maestri has been on the Tennessee DL for a few weeks now with a shoulder injury? Has he come down to Mesa? Do you know at all how severe the injury might be?

Nice to get a report from AZ Phil from an away game. I have a sneaking suspicion that the appearance of Soriano had something to do with it.

AZ Phil.....The AZL Cubs have four very hot bats in their lineup.Are there any rumors of any of these guys moving on up to Boise or Peoria in the near future? Contreras... .373/.432/.771 Perez... .378/.383/.822 Hoorelbeke... .381/.467/.667 Jones... .448/.500/.793

Don't forget Matt Cerda who's done well (but at age 18 and learning a new position, he's unlikely to get moved up).

Am I the only one who had a sick feeling in his (or her) stomach after reading, "...N. Perez adding a garagantuan solo HR..." and confusing Nelson with Ne!f!?

I was honestly wondering for a half second how in the name of everything that is holy we had that old dud(e) in Arizona.

Thank your lucky stars that it was Nelson, and not Ne!f!.

Wood's blister problem began in late June.
http://blogs.chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/spor...
Paul Sullivan posted

paul sulivan needs to fix his flux capacitor...wood said last week that his blister problem began in late june.

-edit-

nevermind, he uses the quote in the article.

is the dumpster the most underappreciated cub in years or what?

people see it...people see it keep happening...everyone's still looking at it like it's gonna blow up any f'n second, though. hehe...

unless he falls off a cliff or injures himself he's well on his way to the 12+m-multiyear club. imagine that...

he's well on his way to the 12+m-multiyear club. imagine that...

Very well deserved. He's a class act, a very good players with both starting/relieving capacities -- remember that in the two plus years he spent closing he had a couple of terrible appearances that blew up his ERA. IIRC, in 2007, he started the year with a scoreless streak and had a 1.80 ERA as late as June or July. Then the Mets game happened and he lost track a bit.

We all know how good he was in 2005 and parts of 2006 -- now, he made a smooth transition to starting. The guy's a great major leaguer; sure, the low BABIP and the blow-up potential are there, but there's no way he can't be as good a FA signing as Ted Lilly.

Who would have thought before the season started that Dempster going 8 scoreless innings like last night would be brushed off as almost expected -- count me among those taking his repeated good to excellent work for granted.

Dempster has definitely learned a thing or two (new pitches?) since he was last a starter. He deserves credit for what he's done so far.

Submitted by Raisin101 on Mon, 07/21/2008 - 5:07pm. Quick question...Alex Maestri has been on the Tennessee DL for a few weeks now with a shoulder injury? Has he come down to Mesa? Do you know at all how severe the injury might be?

=============================

RAISIN: I haven't seen Alessandro Maestri at Fitch Park (yet). At least he's not on the field. But the Fitch Park Rehab Division lives in their own little world, and I sometimes go weeks without seeing some of the guys. (There was a rare Jeff Culpepper sighting a couple of weeks ago, though).

Submitted by falcon on Mon, 07/21/2008 - 5:31pm.

AZ Phil.....The AZL Cubs have four very hot bats in their lineup.Are there any rumors of any of these guys moving on up to Boise or Peoria in the near future?

============================

FALCON: The players talk about stuff like that among themselves, but the decision is made in the higher levels of the Player Development Dept (Oneri Fleita and Dave Bialas), so generally the players don't know about the moves until they are actually made and the player is packing up to leave.

That said, I wouldn't be surprised if Jericho Jones, Nelson Perez, and either John Contreras or Sean Hoorelbeke get promoted to Boise (Boise lost their right-handed hitting 1st baseman when Rebel Ridling got promoted to Peoria), with perhaps Ryan Sontag, Dwayne Kemp, and Kyler Burke coming back to Mesa.

Demoting Burke to the AZL Cubs might help motivate him to consider a move to LHP (he was a top pitching prospect in HS), although if the move is made at some point, it probably won't happen until either the AZ Instructional League in September or else Extended Spring Training next Spring.  (The Cubs don't convert a position player to pitcher unless the player agrees to do it).

AZ Phil: I read somewhere that Oneri Fleita has a phylosophy of moving players up when they are excelling at their present level and moving struggling players down to regain their confidence,etc.Of coarse I understand that all depends if there are openings to move up to where a player has the oportunity to play a lot and stay off the bench.I could see Vitters and Rundle moving up to Peoria and Sontag & Burke going to Mesa. Contraras would take the vacated 3rd base spot in Boise and Jones & Perez would take the outfield openings.It seems that Boise is way overloaded with left hand batters and adding these 3 players would balance out their lineup and add a lot of power & offense also.Vitters,Rundle,& Burke ought to be in Daytona by now and seeing them still playing in short season low A ball just seems to be clogging up the system in the lower levels.Just my 2 cents.

I don't see why Vitters should be at Daytona when he's in his first full pro season. Rundle didn't start regularly at Boise last year, it's not surprising he that he didn't skip Peoria to Daytona this season. And despite doing well last season at Boise, it'd be quite amazing for Burke to have skipped over Peoria to Daytona this year.

I can see why you'd say Rundle and Burke should be at Daytona if you meant that's where they should be based on normal progression after they were drafted. Certainly not Vitters.

You're right...I meant they should be there by normal progression.....and Vitters should be in Peoria

Gotcha.

I'll take what I can get from HS hitting prospects in the Cubs system. Also, I have no problem with Vitters at Boise...remember, he's going to be 18 all the way till the final few days of August. He's young for his HS class of 2007.

Thanks, AZ Phil. Hope it isn't serious for Alex during such a breakthrough season as a starter.

Another question if you have the time...how did Shafer look? Do you know how hard he was throwing? (I remember when he was drafted, there were reports that he had had a drop in velocity after his sophomore season.)

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