Cubs, Soriano weighing a bat change
MILWAUKEE – Alfonso Soriano reasoned Sunday that it will only take one home run to open the flood gates.
Now comes the big question: When will that first home run come?
“It’s been a little while but I know as soon as I hit one I will get more relaxed and more will be coming,” Soriano said. “But I think the first one has been a little difficult but as soon as I hit one homer I will be OK.”
A relaxed Soriano would be a better one, but it might not be his mind that needs relaxing, but rather his swing. Not a fan of a lighter bat, despite the fact that he swings one of the heaviest pieces of lumber in baseball, Soriano has made a bit of a concession.
He has reduced the weight of his bat about an ounce, but the coaching staff feels like even more would help him. Soriano has used a 35-inch, 33-ounce bat for the majority of his career.
“He’s gone there a little bit but there is no question I’d like to see a much lighter bat,” manager Dale Sveum said. “He has adjusted a little bit but a really smaller or lighter bat would help a lot.”
Soriano said this spring that he’s tried lighter bats in the past but felt that it altered his swing plane too much. The 36-year-old was hitting home runs this spring with regularity but it’s been a much different story now that the regular season has started.
The fact of the matter is that fastballs are getting too deep (on him),” Sveum said. “Whatever it is, it’s just a strange phenomenon when (the Brewers’ Edwin) Maysonet has more home runs than Alfonso Soriano right now.”
For a team that is challenged to score runs and has only one consistent power source in Bryan LaHair, Soriano’s power outage has been a problem. He does have 15 RBIs, third best on the team behind LaHair (18) and Starlin Castro (19). But his RBI total is 11th among all major-league left fielders.
“It’s tough to swallow because we have to get two- and three-run home runs out of that position, there’s no question about it,” Sveum said. “We’re having trouble sustaining innings enough to where we need homers out of that spot.”
When he talked about a lighter bat this spring, Soriano said that one issue he had with them is that, “I had too many swings and misses.” Well even with a heaver bat that presumably causes less “swings and misses,” Soriano was still second on the club with 27 strikeouts at the start of play Sunday.
Sveum and the coaches don’t seem as if they will let up on their suggestion Soriano goes to a smaller bat. And if he eventually agrees, the adjustment doesn’t figure to be an easy one.
“It’s very hard to do,” Sveum admitted. “It’s almost like mechanics. It’s hard to change your mechanics. It’s hard to change something that’s felt is comfortable to you. Sometimes when you get to take a 35½-inch bat and make it 34 just looking at it, it looks like it’s 31 inches. It’s so much smaller looking. Those are much harder things to get over than people think.”