Friday, April 20, 2007

Soriano to miss Cards series

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ATLANTA -- Cubs fans should not get their hopes up for a miracle appearance by center fielder Alfonso Soriano in the upcoming weekend series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Manager Lou Piniella put any possibility of that to rest.
"He ran today, and he was about 75 percent," said Piniella. "Mark O'Neal, our trainer, feels that by Monday or Tuesday, he'll be ready to play. He'll run again on Saturday in Chicago, in cooler weather, see how he feels, maybe even a little bit on Sunday and then be ready to play by Monday or Tuesday. That's the scenario we have for Soriano."
Soriano, who has sat out the last three games after straining his hamstring in Monday's game against San Diego, was upbeat prior to the series finale in Atlanta, speaking optimistically that he could conceivably play as early as Sunday.
Piniella, while admitting he was encouraged by the progress of 31-year-old center fielder, who he called "a quick healer," discouraged any speculation that he would rush him back into the lineup, even as a pinch-hitter.
"[If] you sit through cool weather, you get all stiff, and then send him up there to hit, you're risking [it]," he said. "Last night, we kept our bullpen quiet because of the risk factor. This would be a similar type situation with Soriano.
"I will probably say no, but let's leave at least a little doubt so the other team doesn't know for sure. So everybody's available," he added with a laugh. "But prudent-wise, it would be difficult. It's taking a risk that probably isn't worth taking."
Running amok: The inability to get Matt Murton home from third base with nobody out, and then not advance both Michael Barrett and Murton from second and third with one out in the eighth inning on Wednesday night was the final straw for Piniella as far as the team's baserunning.
The Cubs' skipper announced that he is bringing in the club's outfield/base running coordinator, Bob Dernier, to run a clinic.
Dernier stole 218 bases in his career, while only getting caught 63 times, a 77.6 percent success rate, and in 1984 set a then-franchise single-season record for steals by a center fielder with 45.
"We're going to work on some things with our leads and so forth, try to improve our baserunning," said Piniella. "I haven't been totally pleased with that aspect of our game. We're going to bring him in and really go over some things, including stealing bases."
One thing he'll probably go over with the Cubs players is when, and more important, when NOT to steal. Second baseman Ryan Theriot provided a perfect example of the latter in the first inning Thursday night.
After singling and stealing second, Theriot was thrown out attempting to steal third on a 2-0 pitch with Derrek Lee at the plate and Aramis Ramirez on deck.
Down on the Farm: Left-hander Les Walrond and righty John Webb combined for a shutout for Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday night. Walrond is now 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA, while the save was Webb's first since Aug. 21, 2003, when he played at Double-A West Tennessee.
Center fielder Chris Walker had two hits in his fifth straight contest -- he's hitting .476 (10-for-21) with a homer in that stretch -- to spark the first place Tennessee Smokies (Southern League, Double-A) to their fourth straight win. Walker also swiped two bases.
Jeff Samardzija pitched five strong innings (five hits, two runs, one earned), but got no decision in the Daytona Cubs' (Florida State League, Class A) 6-4 loss to Vero Beach.
The Peoria Chiefs (Midwest League, Class A) were rained out. They'll play a double-dip at Great Lakes on Thursday.
On deck: The Cubs head home to open a weekend series with the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. Ted Lilly (1-1, 2.37) takes the hill for the Cubs, while right-hander Braden Looper (2-1, 2.37) goes for the Cardinals. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT.

Its to bad that he had to miss the best rivalry in baseball but you have to take it easy with him and plus there is no rush in my opinion because I want Pie to show why he deserves to be in the Majors.

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