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07/21/08 8:48 PM ET
Soriano plays for first time since injury
Star bats leadoff for Mesa Cubs in return to live action
By Mike Ritter / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The first pitch of the game to leadoff hitter Alfonso Soriano was a little too close for his comfort. Attempting to return to the Cubs after he broke his left hand when he was hit by a pitch June 12, Soriano was brushed back by Padres rookie-level pitcher Junior Veras, prompting a big smile from the outfielder. "It was not a good experience, man," Soriano said. "His first pitch went to my head, so my heart was jumping because a lot of people told me that those little guys, they throw hard and they don't know where the ball goes. I was a little scared there." Soriano had three plate appearances for the Mesa Cubs -- a rookie-level team -- on Monday morning, as he went 0-for-2 with a walk as the designated hitter. Soriano reported no lingering effects in his hand and said he would even be ready to come back for Monday night's game in Phoenix against the Diamondbacks. "I didn't feel anything in my hands and nothing in my fingers," Soriano said. "No pain, that's what's important. "If they want me to play tonight, I'll play tonight. If they want me to do one more game of rehab, I'll do that. It depends on what the team wants. It's their decision, not my decision." Soriano will head down to Tucson for at least one game, where the Iowa Cubs are playing against the Diamondbacks' Triple-A affiliate, before rejoining the Cubs in Chicago to face the Marlins on Thursday. Soriano flied to right in his first at-bat, struck out in the third and walked in the fifth. He saw a total of 19 pitches in his three at-bats. The All-Star had taken batting practice in Houston over the weekend, but Monday was Soriano's first live-game action since the injury. Soriano also took batting practice at Chase Field before the Cubs' game against the D-backs. Soriano said he will probably play in the field on Tuesday. "I don't think I'll have a problem in the field because last time I went on the DL, it was for my calf, but now it's different. Now it's more about hitting," he said. Soriano wasn't used to the Arizona summer heat, as the temperature was well over 100 degrees. "I made a couple swings and my head was spinning," he joked. "It was too hot." Soriano is hitting .283 with 15 homers and 50 RBIs through 51 games. He has missed 47 games so far this season. Cubs manager Lou Piniella said he received good reports from Soriano's rehab game. "He was a little undisciplined, but hit some balls off the end of the bat, and hit two balls off his hand and had no pain," Piniella said. "From that standpoint, it was really good news." The Cubs will determine on Wednesday if Soriano is ready, or needs more rehab at-bats. "He probably could use more than the at-bats we're going to give him," Piniella said. "We'll see after tomorrow how he is. The fact that he hit a few off the end of the bat, and a couple off the hands and didn't feel anything is the most positive of all."
Mike Ritter is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.