Has Alfonso Soriano reached breaking point with Cubs?
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com June 19, 2013 10:55PM
Updated: June 20, 2013 9:43PM
ST. LOUIS — Alfonso Soriano’s anger had been building by the time he threw his plate of food and sent the metal garbage can crashing against the shower tiles after the Cubs’ ninth-inning loss Sunday against the Mets in New York.
“It wasn’t just because of that game,” the usually upbeat and composed left fielder said Wednesday. “Sometimes I get angry and I keep it in. I had to let it out.”
Blowing late leads for 11 weeks tends to do that to a team, and Soriano merely was acting out what nearly every teammate was feeling.
Those eleven weeks included 15 one-run losses, seven two-run losses, 14 blown saves, a 15-game deficit in the standings and no way up in a division that includes three of the top four teams in the majors.
“I don’t care who you are, frustrations are frustrations, and certain losses are worse than other ones,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “But that’s why he’s been a great player. He’s very competitive, and he cares and wants to win.”
At 37 and with less than 16 months left on his eight-year, $136 million contract, Soriano seems as open as ever to waiving his no-trade rights if a deal to a contender is presented to him.
For now, he said, “my mind is not ready yet [to consider that]. It depends what deal they can get and what team.”
But with his wife and kids due to join him this week in Chicago to spend the summer, he anticipates talking to his family about what some of the possibilities might be.
“It’s not in my mind right now,” he said. “Maybe next week. I’ve got to talk to my family first, my wife, my kids, the team. It’s not only about me.”
There’s also the issue of finding the right team with the right need, probably in the American League. That’s assuming Soriano has a hot streak that piques enough interest.
One thing’s for sure: After playing in two World Series in his first three full years in the big leagues, he never thought he’d go this long without one.
He also didn’t sign up for a multi-year organizational overhaul when he committed most of his 30s to the Cubs.
“When I used to be with the Yankees, I knew they were going to be in the playoffs most every year,” said Soriano, who made the playoffs every year of his career until the Yankees dealt him to the Texas Rangers for Alex Rodriguez in 2004. “I was upset when they traded me to Texas because Texas at that time was a [building] team.
“I stayed [upbeat], kept working and thought maybe I’d have one more opportunity to play in the World Series with another team. I signed here to make the playoffs and World Series.”
Soriano refuses to say he has given up on this season, even with the poor start and the deep deficit: “I think if we got on a run before the break …”
But no amount of optimism will fix what’s obviously broken this year or change what even he knows is inevitable next month, when the front office sells off its most valuable short-term veterans again at the trade deadline.
Last year, Soriano turned down a potential deal to go to the San Francisco Giants — who eventually won the World Series — because of concerns about the cool, damp weather and his creaky knees.
It would be natural if he weighed his options with a little heavier outlook this time around, perhaps leaning closer to being ready for a move.
“It depends,” he said. “It depends.”