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Alfonso Soriano

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alfonso Soriano

Chicago Cubs — No. 12
Left fielder
Born: January 7, 1976 (1976-01-07) (age 33)
San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic
Bats: Right Throws: Right 
MLB debut
September 14, 1999 for the New York Yankees
Career statistics
(through May 1, 2009)
Batting average     .282
Home runs     277
Runs batted in     719
Stolen Bases     252
Career highlights and awards

Alfonso Soriano (born January 7, 1976 in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic) is a professional Major League Baseball outfielder for the Chicago Cubs. He has previously played for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp (Nippon Professional Baseball), New York Yankees, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals. He played primarily as a second baseman for the Yankees and Rangers. He bats right-handed and has batted as a lead-off hitter for most of his career.



[edit] Professional career

[edit] 1997: Japan

Soriano began his professional baseball career in Japan with the Hiroshima Carp, training at their Carp Academy for Dominican players. In 1997, he was promoted briefly to the varsity team, and, wearing uniform number 74, he appeared in nine games, batting .118 (2 for 17) with two walks. In 1997, Soriano earned a salary of $40,000.[1] Soriano finished his career in Japan by retiring from his contract and signing as a free agent with the New York Yankees, using a loophole that had previously been used by Hideo Nomo.

[edit] 1998–2003: New York Yankees

Soriano signed as a free agent with the New York Yankees in 1998, starting his career as an infield player, and played in New York for five seasons. His first hit in the MLB came in 1999 when for the Yankees he hit a game-winning home run against Norm Charlton of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. In 2002, Soriano led the American League with 696 at bats, 209 hits, 92 extra base hits, 41 stolen bases, 128 runs and set a New York Yankees team record for most at bats (696) and most strikeouts (157) in a season. He finished in third place for Rookie of the Year honors in 2001.

In 2003, Soriano set the record for most home runs to lead off a game in a season with 13, and for the second straight year, led the league in at bats, and finished in the top five for hits, doubles, home runs, stolen bases, and strikeouts.

[edit] 2004–05: Texas Rangers

In 2004, the Yankees traded Soriano to the Texas Rangers (along with minor leaguer Joaquin Arias) for Alex Rodriguez and cash amounting to $67 million of the $179 million remaining on Rodríguez's contract.[2][3]

On May 8, 2004, Soriano had six hits in nine innings -- the first Texas Ranger to do so -- in a 16-15, 10-inning victory over the Detroit Tigers. The game featured a bizarre, hour-long fifth inning, where Detroit scored eight runs in the top half of the inning to take a 10-run lead over the Rangers, only to see Texas score 10 runs in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game, the largest deficit ever overcome by the Rangers and tying an MLB record for most runs in an inning by two teams.[4] That same year, Soriano was elected to the All-Star Game as the starting second baseman. He hit a three-run home run off Roger Clemens in the first inning and was named the MVP of the game.[5]

In 2005 he finished sixth in the AL for stolen bases, and third for extra base hits (as well as eighth for strike-outs).

[edit] 2006: Washington Nationals

Alfonso Soriano converted from 2nd base to left field for the Washington Nationals in 2006.

On December 7, 2005, Soriano was traded to the Washington Nationals in exchange for Brad Wilkerson, Terrmel Sledge, and minor league pitcher Armando Galarraga.[6] On February 10, 2006, Soriano set a record for the highest salary ever awarded in arbitration, receiving $10 million, even though he lost his request of $12 million.[7] (The previous high had been set in 2001 by Andruw Jones of the Atlanta Braves when he earned $8.2 million.) The Nationals offered Soriano a five-year, $50-million extension, but Soriano rejected the offer.[8]

Soriano and his agent Diego Bentz instead opted to open contract negotiations during the off-season, so that he would become a free agent and would be capable of earning a greater salary.

On March 20, 2006, Nationals manager Frank Robinson wrote Soriano in the lineup to play left field. Soriano, who since 2001 had played exclusively at second base, refused to take the field, and the Nationals organization threatened him with disqualification, which would have meant forfeiture of his salary, and he would not have received credit for service time in fulfillment of the obligations of his contract. With his contract's service terms officially still unfulfilled, he would then not have been eligible for free agency at season's end.

Two days later, Soriano relented and played in left field for the Nationals in their exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Robinson indicated that he considered Soriano's move to left field to be permanent and would not consider moving Soriano back to second base at any point during the season. In his comments following that game, Soriano indicated that he would accept his new position without further argument. As the season got underway, however, Soriano began to enjoy his new position, and by the All-Star break, he led the league in outfield assists and became one of the few players ever to start the All-Star game at two different positions.

Soriano enjoyed the greatest season in his career in 2006. He shattered his previous career high in walks with 67 (previously 38). He also reached a career high in home runs with 46 (previously 39). He also had 41 stolen bases. On August 25, a week after reaching 30-30, he became the fastest man in baseball history to reach 200 home runs and 200 stolen bases, reaching the mark in 929 games (breaking the previous record of 1,053 games held by Eric Davis.[9].

Alfonso Soriano joins the 40-40 club by stealing his 40th base against the Milwaukee Brewers at RFK Stadium, September 16, 2006.

In September, he completed his 20th outfield assist, becoming the only player in baseball history with 40 home runs, 40 stolen bases, and 20 assists.[10]

On September 16, 2006, Soriano stole second base in the 1st inning to become the fourth player to join the 40-40 Club, joining José Canseco, Barry Bonds, and Alex Rodriguez in this exclusive club. Six days later he became the first person ever to reach 40 home runs, 40 stolen bases and 40 doubles in one season, making him the only member of the 40-40-40 club.[11]

Soriano, making his fifth consecutive All-Star team, became only the third man to start All-Star games for both leagues at two different positions.

[edit] Possible trade

As the trading deadline of July 31 approached, the Nationals were in a dilemma. On one hand, Soriano had initially expressed his distaste for playing left field, and he was in the last year of his contract, which would grant him free agency at the end of the season. If the Nationals lost Soriano at the end of the season, they would receive a first or second round draft pick and a "sandwich" pick in between the first and second round as compensation. Further, Soriano did not want to engage in contract negotiations during the season. On the other hand, as the deadline approached, Soriano expressed his enjoyment with left field, and his strong desire to stay with the team.[12] Both fans and players began to be more vocal in their support to keep Soriano. Manager Frank Robinson praised Soriano's leadership in the clubhouse, and further suggested that Soriano should be considered for MVP of the National League. There were plenty of suitors, including sending Soriano back to the Yankees, and the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers were also interested. In the end, Nationals general manager Jim Bowden felt that what he was offered was not worth trading him. The "non-trade" was a risk for the Nationals and made headlines across the country.[13]. The Nationals hoped to sign him to a long term deal before the season ended but on October 12, 2006 he rejected a $70 million deal.[14]

[edit] Chicago Cubs

[edit] 2007

Soriano at bat against the San Francisco Giants

The Chicago Cubs signed Soriano to an eight-year contract worth nearly 136 million dollars.[15] The contract marked the most expensive deal in the Cubs' franchise history.[15] The Cubs' manager, Lou Piniella, assigned Soriano to play center field,[16] but later moved him to left field after he sustained a hamstring injury.[17] He struggled during the first month of the season, during which he posted a .270 batting average, with no home runs.[18] He managed to hit his first home run during the Cubs' first game in May, and gradually increased his batting average throughout the month.[18]

Soriano was extremely productive in June. During a single game against the Atlanta Braves, Soriano hit three home runs off Lance Cormier.[19] Soriano had accomplished the same feat in his past, coincidentally, also against the Atlanta Braves.[20] During the subsequent game, Braves pitcher Tim Hudson hit him with a wild pitch.[21] The home plate umpire deemed Hudson's actions to be unintentional,[21] and warned both teams.[21] Soriano also played an integral part in the Cubs' offense during the team's annual Cross-town Classic with the Chicago White Sox at US Cellular Field. He hit home runs in three consecutive games,[22] and single-handedly out scored the entire White Sox's offense.[18][23]

His efforts merited the 'National League's Player of the Month' title for June.[24] He was later selected as a reserve outfielder in the 2007 MLB All-Star Game,[25] where he hit a two-run home run for the National League in the bottom of the ninth inning.[26] Soriano led the Cubs in home runs during their National League Central chase in June and July, during which they erased the Milwaukee Brewers' eight game lead over the division.[27] After losing the tie for first in early August, Soriano tore his right quadriceps during a game against the New York Mets on August 5.[28] The Cubs placed him on the fifteen day disable list, and expected him to miss several weeks while recovering from the injury.[28]

"Fonzie" hams it up with fans during pregame warmups

The Cubs used Matt Murton, who had been recalled from the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, in left field.[29] He began to show signs of improvement around on August 21, when he was seen running and working out with trainers.[30] Soriano stated he felt healthy enough to return in a few days,[30] but made his actual return on August 28, 2007.[31] Upon his return, Soriano proceeded to have the most productive September in the franchise's history. He hit fourteen home runs, twenty-seven runs batted in, and recorded a .320 batting average within twenty-nine games. Soriano said upon his return from the quad injury that he had also been suffering from wrist injuries and the time off to heal his leg also helped his wrists.[32] The Cubs went on to win the National League Central Division, but were swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Division Series. Soriano finished the season with thirty-three home runs (including eleven lead-off home runs), seventy runs batted in, and a .299 batting average.[18] He led the Cubs in home runs, triples, runs, strikeouts, and Slugging percentage, among all regular starters.[33]

[edit] 2008

During the first few weeks of the 2008 season with the Cubs, Soriano struggled. He was only hitting .190 at the time he was put on the DL with a bad leg. After being activated, Soriano got off to a quick start, raising his average to .280 and increasing his home run total. In a one week stretch in May, he hit 7 home runs in just 6 games, hitting nearly .500 during that stretch. At the end of May he had 12 home runs and 33 RBIs. However, his defense was extremely poor,[citation needed] and after being placed on the DL early in the season, Soriano was encouraged to stop hopping as he caught fly balls.[citation needed]This seemed to affect his play in the field as he misjudged two balls in St. Louis on May 2nd, shortly after being activated. It appeared that Soriano was talking to fans up until moments before the ball was pitched to the batter. After being severely booed by Cub fans who had traveled to St. Louis in that particular game,[citation needed] he homered in the ninth to send the game to extra innings.[34] Later that month, he dropped the what would have been the game's final out in the 9th inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing Jason Bay to reach safely and eventually costing the Cubs a win.[35]

On June 11, 2008, Soriano was hit by a pitch and broke a bone just under the ring finger in his left hand.[36] On July 7, 2008, Soriano was voted a starter in the 2008 MLB All-Star Game. However, due to the injury, he was replaced in the starting lineup by Matt Holliday of the Colorado Rockies.[37]

As poor as Alfonso's defense is perceived to be, his arm has been just as much as asset to the Northsiders, and he is one of the league's leaders in outfield assists. Soriano also led the team in home runs, despite having played in only 109 games. On August 22nd, Soriano accomplished one of baseball's rarest feats, as he stole home plate in a loss to his old team, the Washington Nationals.[38]

In early September, Soriano helped end the Cubs six-game losing streak by slugging out three home runs with five RBI against the Cincinnati Reds. It marked the third three-home run game of his career. However, as the Cubs went into the playoffs against the Dodgers, Soriano, like nearly everyone else on the team, hit poorly in the NLDS.

[edit] 2009

Soriano has gotten off to a quick start, hitting a solo home run in his first at bat of the 2009 season[39]. Soriano also hit a game tying solo home run off LaTroy Hawkins in the 8th inning in the second game of the young season. On April 11th, Soriano hit a 2-run home run off of Carlos Villanueva in the top of the ninth giving the Cubs a 6 to 5 victory over rival Milwaukee. Comcast Sportsnet awarded Soriano with "Play of the Day."[40]. Soriano homered again, the very next day, on the first pitch he saw from Jeff Suppan, his 51st lead-off home run. On April 17th with one out in the bottom of the ninth Soriano hit a two run home run to give the Cubs a 8-7 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.[41]

[edit] Career statistics

The following is a collection of Soriano's career batting and fielding statistics as of December 10, 2008.[42]

[edit] Batting

1205 4934 797 1391 309 23 275 705 248 298 1069 .282

[edit] Fielding

Soriano led all major league second basemen in errors every year from 2001 to 2005 (19 (tied), 23, 19, 23, and 21). In 2006 he was second in the major leagues of all left fielders in errors, with 11, but led all left fielders with 22 assists, 9 double plays, and a 2.29 range factor.

1184 1171 10346.1 4592 2306 2151 135 494 3.880 .971

[edit] Work outside of baseball

On June 23, 2004 Soriano donated US$2.6 million to his home country for children wanting to become professional baseball players. He later appeared in Boys & Girls Clubs commercials urging children to play baseball. On December 16, 2008 he made an appearance at the Starke County Courthouse in Knox, Indiana for an autograph signing session.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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