When Alfonso Soriano shifted to the outfield a few years ago, he struck most as a surprisingly good left fielder. He took some questionable routes, but he had decent range, and a killer arm. But in the last couple years, his routes have gotten worse, his range has been limited, and folks don’t really run on him anymore – and when they do, Soriano doesn’t seem to nail them quite as often. Soriano also developed a bit of timidity around the wall.
Mike Quade is hoping Soriano can change all of those things around this year, and he’s already optimistic.
“He’s cut, he’s in great shape, he’s ready to go from Day One,” Quade said. “Look, we had to push him to really get into working out (in left). Hell, I ran him into the wall and hurt him once. That was not good.”
That happened in the spring of 2008, forcing Soriano to miss a few Cactus League games.
Quade said playing the wall is “one of the difficu — and I just decided we’re going to do some wall work. I ran him into the darn thing, and he hurt his wrist. When you’re an outfield coach for Lou (Piniella), you’re going, ‘Oh, man, I’m looking for work. (Soriano) might miss a week, and I’m missing the end of the year.”
Quade disputed the contention that Soriano is “afraid of the wall.”
“I never thought he was afraid of the wall,” he said. “It’s just getting comfortable and understanding judgment of the warning track. This guy didn’t grow up playing the outfield.” Chicago Breaking Sports.
Despite Soriano’s struggles in the field the last two or three years, he’s been far from the biggest defensive problem on the club. In the average game, he’ll see three or four chances total, whereas the guys up the middle – who’ve also struggled in recent years, whoever they were – see the majority of chances. So even if Soriano becomes an excellent left fielder, it won’t make much of a dent in the Cubs’ defensive problems.
In other words, I doubt Soriano’s defensive prowess is going to directly impact too many Ws and Ls, but it’s nice to know he continues to work at it. Now if only he could work at laying off the low and outside breaking balls.