Soriano sets example with 30/100 season

Alfonso Soriano has made sure to be a role model for Starlin Castro. David Banks/Getty Images

CHICAGO – While it has been a Chicago Cubs season to forget, Alfonso Soriano has made sure to show the team’s roster full of young players a thing or two to remember.

Soriano’s fountain-of-youth season hit another milestone Wednesday as the veteran slugged his 30th home run of the season after he already topped the 100-RBI mark over the weekend.

Poised to do even more potential damage, Soriano was on deck when the last out was recorded in the Cubs’ 6-5 defeat to the Cincinnati Reds.

At age 36, Soriano promised before the season even began to be a good example, win or lose, for players who are nearly half his age. After a slow start in the power department he has done just that.

Soriano became just the second player in major league history to hit 30 home runs in a season after not hitting one in his team’s first 30 games. The Red Sox’s Dwight Evans also did it in 1982 when he finished the season with 32 home runs.

“I’m very proud of myself for working hard,” Soriano said. “I always said if I feel healthy my numbers are there. I’ve been working hard to put up those numbers.”

It is the second time Soriano has hit 30 home runs with the Cubs after also doing it in 2007. He hit 29 home runs in 2008.

It is also the third time Soriano has recorded at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI in a season. His 103 RBIs this year are the second most in his career after the 104 he collected in 2005 with the Texas Rangers.

After flashing some impressive power in spring training, the season didn’t start so promising for Soriano. He turned into a singles hitter as he had just two extra-base hits in April (both doubles) and just six before his first home run on May 15 at St. Louis.

Since May 15, the Brewers’ Ryan Braun and the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera are the only other major league hitters to club at least 30 home runs.

While putting a charge back into his season, Soriano hasn’t forgotten his other key role as a veteran which is to set the perfect example for one of the youngest rosters in the league. Soriano makes it a point to take Starlin Castro to the batting cage every day, while also showing guys like Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters and Anthony Rizzo the work ethic it takes to have a productive season so late in your career.

“He’s one of the guys that the people in that clubhouse know how important he is to everybody,” manager Dale Sveum said. “To play with the injuries and to play every single day, things like that are invaluable in that clubhouse.”

Long after Soriano’s Cubs days are finished, he could still be making a difference for the team.

“It’s been good because I think I’m a veteran guy and I think those guys see me,” Soriano said. “I think I have to do the best I can to make sure they can learn something from me. That’s what I try to do is to play hard every day because they can learn something.”