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Patience a virtue for free-swinging, red-hot Alfonso Soriano

Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano has homered in three consecutive games and raised his batting average to .325 with a recent hot stretch.

As Alfonso Soriano walked to the plate in the sixth inning of the Cubs’

10-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks Sunday, the crowd rose as one

to give the left fielder a rousing standing ovation.

This, of course, was in stark contrast to the treatment he received last

homestand when the Wrigley Field faithful serenaded him with a chorus

of boos.

An offensive explosion will do that to a crowd.

With his two-homer, four-RBI day in the series finale, Soriano continued

his recent torrid hitting streak that has seen him go from public enemy

No. 1 at Clark and Addison to seemingly everyone’s favorite Cub.

“What a nice day he had,” said manager Lou Piniella, whose team reached

.500 after taking the final three games against Arizona. “His at-bats

were all really good and productive. He really looks locked in at home

plate.”

Soriano has driven in 10 runs over the Cubs’ last three games and his

24th career multi-homer game was the third consecutive contest in which

he’s gone deep. For Piniella, it was the swings he didn’t take that

revealed the most.

“Today, he took pitches really, really well,” he said. “For me, that’s a

good tell-tale sign of hitter. When you can take pitches out of the

strike zone, to me, it means you’re seeing the ball really well and

you’re staying on it.”

A notorious free swinger, Soriano has been working with hitting coach

Rudy Jaramillo to keep the lower half of his body calm. The recent

results speak for themselves.

“That’s a major difference,” Piniella said. “You can see that he’s

seeing the ball much better because he’s not chasing. He’s zoning in.”

“I feel very comfortable at home plate,” Soriano said. “I’m a better

hitter when I swing at strikes. Rudy works a lot with me. I’m working

hard with him in the cage and I feel so comfortable at home plate

because of the work I do with him.”

A day after first baseman Derrek Lee suggested that Soriano’s injury

problems last year were much more severe than most people realized, the

red-hot left fielder seemed more content to enjoy the moment than dwell

on the past.

“I don’t like to make excuses in this game” he said. “Whatever happened

last year, it was 2009. Now it’s 2010 and I’m happy the way I play and

happy the way my body feels today.”