Soriano hoping for quick recovery
Expected to be sidelined for six weeks with broken left hand
CHICAGO -- Alfonso Soriano returned to Wrigley Field on Thursday morning, sporting three rings of tape on his fingers, the result of being hit by a pitch and breaking a small bone in his left hand.
Soriano entered the clubhouse with a splint covering the hand but took it off before addressing the media. He hopes for an early return, as does Cubs general manager Jim Hendry.
"We're optimistic that six weeks will be the max," Hendry said. "He's already predicted that it won't be that long, and he is a fast healer."
Braves starter Jeff Bennett hit Soriano in the second inning Wednesday night. The ball ricocheted off Soriano's hand and hit his face.
Soriano emphasized that he wants to be fully healthy before coming back. Three fingers on his hand were taped to keep them immobilized for three weeks.
"I cannot move my fingers, so I think it's very bad," Soriano said. "I'll see what's going on in two weeks."
Soriano and Lou Piniella dismissed the possibility of Bennett intentionally throwing at him.
"That's the last thing I wanted to do with a guy on second and with two strikes," Bennett said. "I mean, you've got him struck out. He always stands over the plate and dives over it a little bit. If you look over his [scouting report], he'll swing at that high fastball. That's what I wanted to do. It didn't work out that way."
Soriano had a stint on the disabled list in April due to a right calf strain, but he said he has never had injuries to his hands before.
Having to sit out again, this time for a longer stretch, is frustrating, but it will give him some time to keep his legs fresh. Soriano had begun to get into a running groove, stealing three bases since June 3.
"I don't know what to do now," Soriano said. "I have to take it easy and try to come back very soon. ... I want to be 100 percent, just do what the trainer wants me to do and come back quick."
Soriano was replaced in left field and the leadoff spot on Thursday by Eric Patterson, who was recalled earlier in the day, along with first baseman/outfielder Micah Hoffpauir, from Triple-A Iowa. Mark DeRosa could also slide over to left, with Mike Fontenot filling in at second base, so Piniella has plenty of options.
"We'll see what we do," Piniella said. "We have to see what works, and what works best. We'll play around with it and see what we come up with."
But it will be very hard to replace Soriano's .283 average, team-leading 15 home runs and 40 RBIs at the top of the lineup.
"It's a big blow to us," Piniella said. "We've got a farm system, and that's what it's for. We brought up some kids. We've got a little more left-handed hitting here, and hopefully they can swing some bats and help us."
Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.