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Friday, June 8, 2012
Surgery still possible for surging Soriano

By Doug Padilla

MINNEAPOLIS – While his sore left knee has felt much better in recent weeks, Alfonso Soriano admitted Friday that an arthroscopic procedure is still a possibility this winter.

Alfonso Soriano
Alfonso Soriano is the Cubs' hottest hitter -- even with a bad knee.

It’s a credit to Soriano that he has produced as much as he has of late, not just on offense but on defense as well. He was at it again Friday, hitting a home run in his first Target Field at-bat.

Soriano continues to credit outfield and first-base coach Dave McKay for improved fundamentals and preparation in left field. And while he is still nowhere near a Gold Glove caliber outfielder, he hasn’t been the defensive liability he once was.

But as good as his glove work has been, it’s been his bat that has been the most impressive over the last three-plus weeks. Since May 15, his 10 home runs are the most of anybody in the major leagues. It’s a remarkable turnaround simply for the fact that he didn’t have a single homer before May 15.

And it has all been done on that sore knee. One reason Soriano has been improving are exercises he started at the direction of the training staff. It has strengthened his hamstring and quadriceps to take the pressure off the knee.

“Some days I feel better, some days I feel worse,” Soriano said. “I hope that whatever I do with the trainer in the first half, after the first half I feel much better. So far I feel better now the last few months.”

Soriano and his hefty contract were going to be hard to move at the trade deadline anyway. There is no indication of whether or not the status with his knee hurts that. But his offensive production has come anyway, something that might be of value to an American League club.

Soriano will get another brief chance to show this weekend if he is suited to the designated hitter role. Sore knee or not, he figures to be able to handle four to five at-bats a night. How he handles hitting while not playing in the field is the question.

“For the most part it’s visualizing it or staying out of that bad habit of when you did have a bad at-bat not to dwell on it for eight hitters,” manager Dale Sveum said.

Soriano is up for the challenge, as long as that knee holds up. He was asked if he expects to have a procedure done on the knee this winter.

“I don’t know, I’d like to see what I have inside my knee,” he said. “If they think they have to do something that’s OK. But if not I have to keep working to keep it stronger.”