Alfonso Soriano spent 6 1/2 seasons playing for the Cubs.

CHICAGO -- Alfonso Soriano celebrated his first night back in town with dinner and some laughs at former teammate Starlin Castro's apartment. There are things that Soriano misses about playing in Chicago, but he was ready for that chapter of his career to close last summer.

After spending 6 1/2 years of his career with the Cubs, arriving at Wrigley Field as a legitimate 40-40 threat and dreaming of leading the club to the World Series, Soriano approved a trade last July that re-fitted him for Yankees pinstripes. He said that New York was his No. 1 choice for a change of scenery.

"The Yankees and me, we're on the same page. We want to win now," Soriano said. "When I played here with the Cubs, they always think about the future; the Yankees are always thinking about the present.

"That's why I picked this team first, to play here, because I'm getting older and I just want to go back, have one more chance to go to the playoffs and go to the World Series."

Soriano said that he loved playing in Chicago, particularly the restaurants and the fans in the left-field bleachers, and that it was strange to be back in the cramped visiting clubhouse underneath Wrigley's first-base grandstand.

"I've played a lot of games for this team here," Soriano said. "I spent almost half of my career with this team; that's why it feels a little weird. I spent six years here, so to play against that team is a little weird. But this is the game, so I've got to do my job now that I play for the Yankees."

Soriano was coming off a 46-homer, 41-steal season for the Nationals in 2006 when he signed an eight-year, $138 million deal with the Cubs.

"When I signed here, that was my dream: to put something together and try to win the World Series," Soriano said. "These fans, this city, they need the Chicago Cubs to be a champion. It's a lot of years [since winning in 1908].

"The fans in Chicago, they need a championship on this side. I know the White Sox won one year, but the Cubs have great fans and it's a big city. They need a champion team."

Soriano said that, from the outside looking in, he could see the Cubs getting on the right path and finally grabbing that elusive championship.

"I've seen it in the past and I see it now; they have a lot of young talent in the Minor Leagues," Soriano said. "I hope when those guys come to the big leagues that they do the job and they can have the chance to win in the future. It's a great city, and I think that city needs a champion."

Beltran has elbow examined, hopes to avoid surgery

Beltran heads to DL with bone spur in elbow

CHICAGO -- Carlos Beltran was examined by Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday, confirming an initial diagnosis of a bone spur in his right elbow. Beltran is scheduled to attempt swinging a bat next Monday, and he is hoping to avoid surgery.

Beltran said last week that the bone spur is an old injury, but it did not bother him until the late innings of a Subway Series game against the Mets at Yankee Stadium, when he had to pull himself out of the lineup.

If Beltran needs surgery to shave down the spur, he would miss approximately eight to 12 weeks of the season. Manager Joe Girardi said that it will come down to pain tolerance for the 37-year-old.

"Does he feel that he can take his 'A' swing?" Girardi said. "You don't want him going out there if he's taking a 'B' or a 'C' swing. That's not going to help us. If he can take his 'A' swing and not have the pain and not have to hold back, then he's a player."

The spur is in Beltran's throwing elbow, but Girardi said that he could work around that issue as long as Beltran is able to swing the bat with force.

"I think you could work around the defense for a while," Girardi said. "We have plenty of outfielders that we could do that."

Beltran is in the first year of a three-year, $45 million contract. The Yankees knew that his signing presented an injury risk, but their concern was more with his two surgically repaired knees than his elbow.

Girardi feels 'pretty good' about CC's return to action

Visit to orthopedist sheds light on Sabathia's knee

CHICAGO -- The Yankees learned this week that they will not have CC Sabathia in their big league rotation for at least six weeks, but manager Joe Girardi remains hopeful that the left-hander will be able to return this season.

Sabathia was to begin underwater therapy on Tuesday as he recovers from a stem-cell injection in his right knee, which Dr. James Andrews determined to have degenerative conditions. Girardi said that the Yankees are willing to give Sabathia's condition time to heal.

"I think there's always that possibility that a player may not make it back, but I feel pretty good about what he's had done so far and the steps that were taken," Girardi said. "You just kind of keep your fingers crossed."

Sabathia is 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA in eight starts this season, surrendering 10 home runs in 46 innings.

Girardi never seriously considered return to Cubs

Joe Girardi said he only spoke with the Yankees last offseason.

CHICAGO -- The Cubs made strong, legitimate pushes to install Joe Girardi as their manager and Masahiro Tanaka as the ace of their pitching staff this past offseason. Neither plan worked out, as both chose the Yankees.

Tanaka fielded a bid from the Cubs that would have been worth a reported six years and $120 million, but instead signed a seven-year, $155 million pact with the Yankees, who are believed to have been the highest bidder for his services.

By that time, Girardi had re-upped with the Yankees for four years and $16 million. There was early speculation that Girardi might be tempted by the idea of coming back to Chicago and managing the Cubs, but Girardi said that it was never all that close.

"When the offseason came, I talked to [Yankees GM] Brian [Cashman]," Girardi said. "We talked to the Yankees and we talked to the Yankees solely. It was a place that we wanted to be, a place we consider home, a place my kids consider home.

"So for us, it was just making sure the Yankees wanted us back, and it worked out. And it did. It's not too often a manager gets to say, 'I can spend 10 years in one city and raise my kids there.' That's really, really unusual. It gives stability to all of us -- and I like stability."

Bombers bits

• Derek Jeter has played in 2,580 games at shortstop entering play on Tuesday and needs three appearances to tie Luis Aparicio (2,583) for second place on the all-time list, trailing only Omar Vizquel (2,709).

If Jeter passes Aparicio without playing another position, he will have made the most appearances as a shortstop without playing another position (Vizquel played multiple positions).

• On this date in 1948, Joe DiMaggio hit for the second of his two career cycles in a 13-2 win against the White Sox in Chicago, going 5-for-6 with two homers and six RBIs.