The San Francisco Giants already knew Alfonso Soriano was worth trying to get in a trade this summer. But the veteran Cubs outfielder with veto rights didn’t want to play on the West Coast.
On Friday, Soriano punished the National League West leaders again with a two-run homer that started the Cubs’ four-run third off Madison Bumgarner (14-9), the margin of victory in the 6-4 final giving Chris Volstad (2-9) his second straight victory.
At age 36, Soriano is having one of his best seasons since joining the Cubs in 2007, playing errorless ball in left field–the only major leaguer in his position to do so–and now with 24 homers, all since May 15.
“I like my body feeling more warm,” he said Friday, the 90-plus temperature good for him–and part of the reason why he didn’t want to go to San Francisco.
“It’s hard to play on the West Coast and in that [AT&T Park],” he said. “It’s not the team. They have a very good team. But I wouldn’t feel comfortable in the city.
“It’s far from my home [the Dominican Republic] and the weather with the program I have with my [sore] knee, it’s not going to help.”
Soriano chose to make the best of the last two months of the season with the Cubs, a team he likes. But two years and $36 million remain on his contract, and the off-season could spark the trade talk again.
Soriano will listen.
“If they come to me, I’d think about it,” he said. “If they can get something for me, I’d be happy to go somewhere I’d be comfortable.
“I don’t want to have the same year losing a lot of games, but I think they’re smart enough and will figure out what they want to do,” he said.
“I like it here, but I don’t like to lose, especially late now in my career. I’d like to stay here, but we’ll see what happens.”
September continues to be about next year for the Cubs as rookies are evaluated and pitchers like Volstad try to make their cases to stay.
It also will be about staying true to the code of remaining competitive in a month the Cubs will try to avoid 100 losses while facing five playoff hopefuls in the Giants, Washington Nationals, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.
“It’s important for these guys to understand you have to [try to] beat the best,” manager Dale Sveum said.
“We’ll do our best to win ball games,” said rookie Anthony Rizzo, whose tenth homer of the season in the fifth was his first since Aug. 5. “We want to play .500 in September, and everyone in here wants to finish strong.
“Losing 100 is not something I want to be part of,” he said. “Our magic number now is 12 [wins].”