MESA, Ariz. (AP) - Alfonso Soriano has a different look about him this spring. He has a reason for that, too.
Soriano hit a bases-loaded, two-run single Saturday and the Chicago Cubs beat the San Diego Padres 9-4. He is batting .429 with a team-high five RBIs.
``This is my best spring training so far in my five years with the Cubs,' he said. ``This year I don't have to worry about getting healthy. Last year, I played the whole year and nothing happened. I don't have to worry about my body.'
Coincidence or not, the last time he felt this good also happened to be the 35-year-old outfielder's best season with the Cubs as he hit .299 with 33 home runs, 70 RBIs and a .560 slugging percentage in 2007.
Since then there have been several injuries and some sub-.260 batting averages, but that just might come to an end in 2011.
``I have been playing more (in spring training) and that is a good idea by the manager,'' Soriano said. ``The more I play the more comfortable I am going to get at the plate and in the field, too.'
Manager Mike Quade has noticed a difference as well.
``He is quietly going about his business, but he is never totally quiet, which I like. He loves to play every day and it doesn't get said enough,' Quade said. ``He has looked good moving around in the outfield. He comes to camp ready. He isn't a guy who goes home and takes four months off.'
Soriano had plenty of help from his teammates against San Diego starter Wade LeBlanc. The left-hander allowed eight hits and four earned runs in 2 2-3 innings.
Marlon Byrd doubled twice and scored three runs while Kosuke Fukudome and Jeff Baker each had two hits.
Randy Wells has pitched five innings, including three in relief of Andrew Cashner, without allowing an earned run. He is one of the candidates for the final two spots in the rotation and helped himself with a solid outing against the Padres.
Wells, who has made 59 starts the last two seasons, allowed three hits, a walk and struck out three.
``Either I make the team or I go to Triple-A because I have options,' said Wells, who went 8-14 last season. ``I still have a job. After a down year and having to fight for a rotation spot, it puts things into perspective.'
San Diego's Chase Headley went 2 for 2 with a walk and is 7 for 10 this spring. Reserve outfielders Mike Baxter and Aaron Cunningham hit solo home runs in the seventh off Cubs reliever Jay Jackson.
NOTES: Commissioner Bud Selig met with the media during the game and touched on the Cubs renovating Wrigley Field, saying he'd prefer to let owner Tom Ricketts reveal details. ... Quade said RHP Jeff Samardzija, who has been a starter and a reliever in his career, will probably not get any spring starts to keep him in reliever mode.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved