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MINNEAPOLIS – A role as the designated hitter agrees with Alfonso Soriano, who crushed two shots Friday in a ballpark that isn’t supposed to be so power friendly.
Soriano first hit a 431-foot home run to center field off the batter’s eye in an area that Twins officials say has been reached about a dozen times in the young history of Target Field. He topped that in the eighth inning when his shot into the upper deck in left field was only estimated at 440 feet.
The Twins believe it is only the third time the upper deck has been reached. The Brewers’ Corey Hart and the Rangers’ Nelson Cruz also did it.
In the end, though, the Twins were able to rally for an 8-7 victory, wasting Soriano’s power display.
“I had a god game today but it wasn’t enough,” Soriano said. “We came up short to get the win so we have to come back tomorrow and keep pushing it to have a better day and get the win.”
In a rare opportunity as a designated hitter, Soriano made the most of it. Without being able to play in the field, he went with a between-at-bat routine of 10-12 swings in the batting cage, some stretching and some time on the exercise bike all in an effort to stay loose.
Now comes that speculation that perhaps an American League will see some value in Soriano and take him in a deal before next month’s trade deadline. The reality is that he still is set to make the rest of his $19 million this season as well as $19 million in both 2013 and 2014.
Friday’s outburst was just more power from a rejuvenated Soriano, who has hit 11 home runs in his last 23 games after not hitting a home run before May 15. He has at least one home run in nine consecutive series, becoming the first Cubs player to have a run that long since Sammy Sosa hit a home run in 12 consecutive series in 2003.
His first-inning home run was also the 350th of his career. It wasn’t just a milestone, it was exactly how Soriano envisions his home runs.
“I liked the first one because that’s what I want to do all the time is to hit homers to center field or right-center,” he said. “I don’t want to pull the ball. The second one he threw me a slider a little in and I pulled it and made a good swing on it. It was exciting, but like I said, it wasn’t enough. It could be a better day for me if we got the win.”
Soriano is expected to be the designated hitter in the final two games of the series and then again June 18-20 at U.S. Cellular Field against the White Sox.
Maybe at some point, Soriano can hit home runs for a team that is winning. Since his run started on May 15, the Cubs are 4-19.
“I’m not happy because I hit homers but that’s not enough for me,” Soriano said. “I was more happy in April when we were playing good and getting some wins and I wasn’t hitting homers. Now I just hit a homer and we didn’t get a win. I don’t just think about me, we have 25 players here. We’re not having a good time. We’re losing a lot of games but we have to keep pushing it and see if we can turn it around.”