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04/22/08 1:56 PM ET

'No more pain' for Soriano

Cubs slugger plans to return May 1 from strained right calf

CHICAGO -- Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano, sidelined with a strained right calf, is able to ride a stationary bicycle now and said he hoped to begin running more strenuously this week when the team goes on the road.

Soriano was placed on the 15-day disabled list April 16, and is expected to be activated when his time is up May 1, for the Cubs' game against Milwaukee.

"There's no more pain," said Soriano, who doesn't have to wear the large boot that he had for the first few days he was on the DL. "It's still a little sore, but no more pain."

He has been able to hit off a batting tee in the Cubs clubhouse and expected to hit in the batting cage in Colorado, where the team plays a two-game series against the Rockies, beginning Wednesday.

When Soriano is ready to return, Cubs manager Lou Piniella will have to deal with more questions about his lineup. Soriano was leading off and batting .175 with a .230 on-base percentage, but Reed Johnson has done well at the top of the order, hitting .346 with a .417 on-base percentage. With the addition of Kosuke Fukudome, the Cubs lead the National League and are second in the Major Leagues in on-base percentage.

Fukudome is tops in the Majors in pitches per plate appearance. They say hitting is contagious. Is being patient contagious, too?

"I never looked into it like that before," Chicago's Daryle Ward said. "If he's a guy who walks and gets on base, that doesn't mean the guy behind him will do that -- he might be a hacker who takes a lot of swings.

"That'd be a great thing if that was contagious, because then we'd be like the Oakland A's. The big thing there is on-base percentage. That means you have a lot of chances to score a lot of runs and put pressure on the other team consistently."

Fukudome has made a difference.

"I think both he and Reed have seen a lot of pitches and ignited the offense," Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot said. "When you see that as a teammate, and the success it's having and helping the team win, you want to imitate that a little bit."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.