Cubs give Alfonso Soriano moving send-off

PHOENIX -- Although the trade for Alfonso Soriano to the New York Yankees has not been completed, the Chicago Cubs outfielder was told he could fly to New York on Thursday night by all of the parties involved in the deal.

“I talked to my agent this afternoon and he told me we have to wait,” Soriano said. “He called me again [during the game] and said it is 90 to 99 percent, so if you want to go to New York, you can go. Otherwise I would have to wait for tomorrow morning.”

The emotion of losing the Cubs' charismatic slugger was apparent in a flat effort by his teammates in Thursday’s 3-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“You can’t fill that kind of void as a person or the guy on the field,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “I know this impacted a lot of people on the field. There were some pretty emotional guys in BP and after.”

Sveum said the entire team said goodbye to their veteran leader in a group send-off after the game.

“After the game we got everybody together to say our good-byes,” Sveum said. “It was emotional for all of us. You don’t usually gather teams together that often when people get traded to say your goodbyes. That just shows you the kind of person he is.”

Soriano looks to return to the Yankees with some mixed emotion after spending almost seven years as a Cub.

“I am happy and I think [the Cubs] are happy, too, because they are going to get something back. I am happy going back to New York where I started my career. I think both ways, [people] are happy.”

The 37-year-old player was feeling some twinges of uneasiness as he packed his bags for the Big Apple.

“There is a difficult part of this,” he said. “I know all these guys and have played with them for a while. This is a little uncomfortable, but this is baseball, sometimes you have to do what is best for the team, for me, and the other organization, too.

“I have been traded before, so I have to keep moving and do my job in New York.”

Soriano had a roller-coaster experience in Chicago after signing the richest contract in Cubs history -- eight years, $136 million in 2006. After numerous leg injuries, the fan base was sometimes agitated during the Dominican’s prolonged slumps.

“The fans were always in focus,” he said. “They always wanted to win; they love when we win. They appreciate when the team wins and plays good.

“I always played hard for the fans because they love their team. I always tried to be a champion here. But it did not happen. I hope it happens in the future for them. Now I have to think about my new team.”

Saying goodbye was difficult for the popular Soriano.

“It was very tough,” he said. “These guys are my good friends, they are good people. It is sad. That is the difficult part of being traded.

“You can be in touch when you go to another team. It is not the same thing as seeing them face-to-face every day. I will remember all those moments we had together.”