Alfonso Soriano showed some power on Friday that he’d been lacking for quite a while, ending a 1-for-24 skid with a home run and a double.
It was Soriano’s first extra base hit since July 8 and his first homer since June 19 and he admitted before Saturday’s game that his struggles had been wearing on him mentally.
“I hope it (won’t) continue that way, because sometimes it’s very hard, the way we play, to keep your mind strong,” Soriano said. “Because that’s a difficult part of this game, mental.”
Soriano attributed his newfound focus to the day off on Thursday, saying he’d been overthinking things at the plate. Manager Mike Quade agreed that it’s best to go to the plate with a clear mind.
“There’s a fine line between your thought process as a hitter and being up (at the plate) thinking,” Quade said. “That’s the incredible thing about this game, when you struggle -- and (Soriano) hadn’t had a very good month -- sometimes your mind gets involved. And it needs to, to a certain extent, but if it gets in there too far, then that’s not good.”
However, Soriano’s struggles have been going on for more than just a month. After an impressive April, in which he slugged .613 and hit 10 home runs, Soriano’s power production has tailed off. Since May 1, Soriano has only five home runs and a measly .385 slugging percentage over 58 games.
With his speed sapped over the years due to multiple lower body injuries, combined with his sub-par on-base skills, Soriano’s recent lack of power is even more disconcerting.
Quade said that giving veterans like Soriano a day off here and there, along with regularly scheduled days off, could help keep his team fresh. Quade credited solid bench players like Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker for allowing him to do that without seeing much drop off in production.
“As you go down the dreaded dog-days of August and September, they are a reality,” Quade said. “Maybe as much mentally sometimes as physically.”
Quade hoped that Soriano’s good day at the plate on Friday would carry over to future at-bats for the streaky slugger.
With the trade deadline fast approaching, rumors are swirling that the Cubs would eat much of Soriano’s contract in order to move him in a trade. Unless Quade is right and Soriano does go on one of his week-long home run binges, one would have to think there won’t be much of a market for a player whose only real value is hitting home runs, especially when he’s not hitting them.