ST. PETERSBURG -- Alfonso Soriano is not ready to count himself out of the All-Star Game.

The Cubs' left fielder is leading National League outfielders in votes, but has a broken bone in his left hand, suffered June 11 when he was hit by a pitch. He was projected to be sidelined a minimum of six weeks, which would mean that Soriano would not be ready for the July 15 Midsummer Classic.

"That's very nice," Soriano said, when told he was still leading in votes. "A lot of fans like how I play, especially in New York. I think they're excited to see me back in New York."

But will he be ready by then?

"I hope so," he said. "I think before the All-Star Game, I'll be ready to play. That's what I hope. If I can play, I'll go."

This trip would be special for Soriano, a six-time All-Star, who began his Major League career with the New York Yankees.

"[Yankee Stadium] is where I played my first game in the big leagues," he said, "So I'd like to go and see it for the last time."

Cubs manager Lou Piniella has a more realistic timetable.

"One thing I can say about Alfonso is, if anybody can get back quicker than the timetable, it's him," Piniella said. "He's always been ahead of schedule, injury-wise. This is a broken bone, and it's a different story than a pulled hamstring. We feel we'll get him back within the time frame or slightly before."

Soriano, who joined the team in St. Petersburg, will have more X-rays taken on Friday when the Cubs return to Chicago.

"On Friday, I think I'll have a better idea," Soriano said. "They want to take another picture and they'll see how far I am. I'm very positive and I think I'll be quicker."

"He might tell me he's ready on Friday," Piniella said. "We'll have a better idea, according to [athletic trainer] Mark O'Neal, because [O'Neal] thinks the first 10 days paint a pretty good picture."

The swelling has gone down, but Soriano still has to wear a brace to avoid re-injuring his hand. He's limited to doing cardio exercises, and no baseball activities. He didn't go to Toronto, and only watched the games on television.

"It's very weird," Soriano said about watching. "You play for the team and watch the team play -- it's very weird for me. I have to sit down and wait a little more."

Soriano will likely need a few at-bats in the Minor Leagues before he gets the go-ahead. If he's miraculously ready for the All-Star Game, would he take part in the Home Run Derby?

"No," Soriano said, smiling.