Soriano on DL after an MRI confirms strained right calf

CHICAGO -- Alfonso Soriano hopped onto the 15-day disabled list Wednesday as the Chicago Cubs lost their star leadoff hitter with a strained right calf muscle.

Soriano was put the DL after an MRI confirmed it was just a strain, an injury he got Tuesday night just seconds after making his familiar hop to catch a first-inning flyball.

Soriano developed the quirky hop when he first moved from second base to the outfield with the Washington Nationals in 2006. He said after he missed some routine flyballs, he incorporated the hop for several reasons: to help him relax, to get to the ball sooner by lurching upward and to make it appear more difficult, thereby increasing his concentration.

But as he wore a boot on his right foot Wednesday, Soriano insisted his latest injury was not caused by the hop.

"No, no, no, no. It was afterward. I did two little jumps and then when I started normal running, that's when I felt it. It's not the jump," Soriano said, adding it started bothering him last week in Pittsburgh.

"It's not because of the hop. I felt it before and felt it last week. ... As soon I got moved to left field, that's what I did in Washington and nothing happened. I did it last year and nothing happened. It's not because of the hop."

Soriano caught a flyball from Ken Griffey Jr. in the first Tuesday night and then had to limp off the field seconds after he landed. Soriano never came to bat as Mike Fontenot hit for him in the bottom half.

"What happened last night was a freak thing," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.

"You can blame it on the hop or you can blame it on whatever you want. But I think truthfully, if it hadn't happened there, it would have happened doing something else. I don't think the hop was the sole reason for it."

Mark DeRosa, who switched from second base to left field on Tuesday night, was back in left Wednesday night. Fontenot was batting leadoff, and the Cubs recalled infielder/outfielder Eric Patterson from Triple-A Iowa.

"That's the way he catches flyballs," DeRosa said of Soriano.

"You don't expect him to get injured doing it. He'll be sorely missed, no doubt. He's one of the biggest reasons we won the division last year."

Soriano was off to a slow start with a .175 average and just two homers and five RBIs this season.

A year ago in his first season with the Cubs after signing a $136 million, seven-year deal, Soriano batted .299 with 33 homers and 70 RBIs, although his steals were way down because of leg problems.

The trip to the DL is just the second in his career, both with the Cubs. He also landed there last August when he strained a quadriceps muscle running the bases. Early last season he also missed five games with a hamstring injury. He finished with 19 stolen bases after swiping 41 in the previous season for the Nationals.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said the team would take its time with Soriano to make sure he's ready to play when he returns.

"It's just a situation where we don't want to rush this and get him ready in seven or eight days and take a chance of him re-injuring it," Hendry said.

Hendry said he doesn't think Soriano's hop necessarily causes injuries and that athletes with lean muscular frames sometimes have muscle pull problems.

"I don't mind the hop as long as he catches them all. That's how I look at it," Hendry said. "That's his thing. It makes him relax and focus better and for the most part he plays good solid defense for us and throws a lot of people out."