Alfonso Soriano is Close to Being Benched

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Alfonso Soriano is Close to Being Benched

Chicago Cubs

It’s no secret that Alfonso Soriano is struggling. After an atrocious 2009 season, the Chicago Cubs outfielder – and highest paid position player – entered 2010 with a surgically-repaired knee, and a renewed desire to perform.

So far, so bad.

Soriano has not hit, and worse, he looks like his defense has deteriorated even further – and it was pretty bad to begin with. And now, Soriano is in serious danger of becoming the most expensive bench player in Cubs history.

“When you’re not scoring runs, you better put your best defense on the field — that I can tell you,” Piniella said after Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. “You can’t afford to give up runs when you’re not scoring.”

An error by Alfonso Soriano in the Reds’ seventh led to a run. Soriano apparently tracked Jonny Gomes’ fly ball, but then took his eyes away. The ball dropped, and he was charged with an error.

The Reds baserunners seemed confused. Did Soriano catch it? Was it foul? Whatever, the bases were loaded and starter Tom Gorzelanny was pulled. Pinch-hitter Miguel Cairo gently smacked the ball past Sean Marshall for an infield hit, and Scott Rolen scored from third to tie the game.

Piniella couldn’t tell what happened because Soriano disappeared from view. How close was Soriano to the wall?

“I took a couple steps then hit the grass, and as soon as I hit the grass, I thought I had two more steps,” Soriano said. “I took little steps, because I didn’t want to hit the wall. You know, full speed into the wall can be very dangerous.”

Rookie Tyler Colvin was inserted into left after the eighth inning. He may need to start. What else can Piniella do?

“We’ll see what happens,” Piniella said. “I’m going to go home, think about it. It’s nice to be going home tomorrow. I’m looking forward to the home opener, and hopefully, we’ll start swinging the bats and put some runs on the board and win with more frequency.”

Obviously, the Cubs have to play the best players, regardless of contract. But it’s very hard to sit a guy who has, including this year, five years and $18 million per season left on his contract.

Still, when a guy can’t make routine catches in the outfield, and is offering absolutely nothing at the plate, how can you justify playing him every day? Collectively, let’s hope he’s simply still recovering from the knee issues, and just needs more time to get back to 100%.

And as an aside: Alfonso, that is the worst, most pathetic excuse I’ve ever heard for a drop. You were nowhere near the wall on the fly ball you dropped. Yes, you were near the wall on the FOUL ball that you missed earlier in the game (and looked like a gigantic pansy), so I suppose I can buy the excuse on that one. But the fly ball? Dude, that’s ridiculous.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.