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Thursday, March 21, 2013
Soriano: Fast start important for Cubs

By Bruce Levine

TUCSON, Ariz. -- In baseball circles, getting off to a fast start to the season might be a cliché heard around all 30 spring training camps, but that is the sentiment veteran outfielder Alfonso Soriano wants to impart on his Chicago Cubs teammates.

"Every team has a chance to make the playoffs if they have a good April," Soriano said. "If we have a good April we can send a message to the other teams that we are a serious team."

The Cubs were 8-15 in April 2012 and 18-32 after two months last season. April games at Wrigley Field tend to be low-scoring because of cold, wet and windy conditions.

"It is hard to play in Chicago because of the weather," Soriano said. "We can use that as an advantage since the other team has to get used to it as well. No one likes to play day games in April at Wrigley Field so we can take advantage of that."

The Cubs have a 10-game homestand from April 8-18 to begin their Wrigley schedule. After facing the Milwaukee Brewers to start the home campaign they must play the World Champion San Francisco Giants and the powerful Texas Rangers.

"We know we have some tough teams right away," Soriano said. "You have to play the schedule and take care of your business. If we play well we won't have to play to hard in May to catch up. If we play loose and do our thing we will be fine."

Soriano is coming off his most productive season since signing a seven-year, $136 million contract in 2006. The 37-year-old outfielder hit 32 home runs and drove in a career-high 108 runs.

"I think everyone is working hard to show that we are much better than last year," Soriano said. "For me, I just want to stay healthy and work hard. If I can do that then the numbers will be there to help my teammates and team win."