Cubs

Kaplan: The reason for Soriano's solid start

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Kaplan: The reason for Soriano's solid start

Monday, April 25, 2011Posted: 7:10 p.m.
By David Kaplan
CSNChicago.com

If you are looking for a reason that Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano has gotten off to a solid start and appears to be more comfortable at the plate and in the field look no further than his injured knee that is finally 100.

For the first time in a long while I feel comfortable with my knee. Last year it bothered me a lot but this year it is healed and I have a lot more confidence in it, Soriano told me in a recent conversation that we had at Wrigley Field.

Sorianos early offensive numbers suggest a bigger power season than Cubs fans have seen from him in a long time as he is on pace to hit over 30 HRs and to drive in over 100. Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo has been spending considerable time working with Soriano and agrees that his knee problems held him back over the past couple of seasons.

Soriano mentally has much more confidence in his knee and he is doing a much better job getting into a hitting position which is allowing him to execute the plan he has at the plate. Last year he was trying to time everything and it didnt matter if it was a fastball or a breaking ball. You never change your timing. You get in a hitting position and let the ball come to you. That is why we work on our mechanics every day. Soriano has been making great decisions and going the other way with the pitch, he told us.

Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo is a huge fan of Starlin Castro and he gave him high praise when we sat down with him during the CubsDodgers series "I've been in this game 21 years and I have seen many of the great hitters. This guy is really special. He has one of the best paths to the ball for any right hander that I have seen in a long time. I saw Miguel Cabrera play recently and on a ball inside I saw how he approached it and I think Starlin has a better approach. That's how good this kid can be. You haven't seen this kind of hand and eye coordination in a long time but what I really like about him is he's so humble. He just stays within himself and goes about his work. He feels no pressure and you can tell by his body language that he feels no pressure. He knows he can hit and believes it. That is a great attribute."

Hey Cubs Fans, You Think Alfonso Sorianos Deal is Long????

According to Brewers.com because of deferrals built into his new contract, Ryan Braun could be drawing paychecks from the Brewers until he's 47 years old. According to the Associated Press, the five-year, 105 million extension Braun signed Thursday includes at least 18 million in interest-free deferrals to be paid in equal installments each July 1 from 2022-2031. The deferrals were key to the deal from both sides. Read the rest of the article HERE.

David Kaplan is the host of Chicago Tribune Live on Comcast SportsNet. Follow him on Twitter @thekapman.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 5th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 5th homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa is starting to heat up, drilling a homer on back-to-back days in late April. His fifth blast came on April 24, a 430-foot solo shot off Dodgers starter Ismael Valdez during the first inning in Los Angeles.

Sosa wound up only playing six innings in that game, however, as he was eventually replaced as a part of a double switch while the Cubs got thumped by the Dodgers. Kerry Wood struggled to get 5 outs, allowing 7 earned runs as L.A. scored 9 in the second inning alone en route to a 12-4 win.

Mike Piazza homered off Wood in that second inning while former Cubs Todd Hollandsworth and Eric Young combined for 3 RBI in the Dodgers lineup.

Fun fact: Jose Hernandez entered the game in place of Sosa and went 2-for-2 with a double, homer and 3 RBI in his only two trips to the plate.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Willson Contreras throws shade at Yu Darvish

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Willson Contreras throws shade at Yu Darvish

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Rich Campbell (Chicago Tribune) and Jay Cohen (Associated Press) join Kap on the panel. Willson Contreras says Yu Darvish lets up with two outs. Was the young catcher right to criticize the veteran pitcher? And what’s your level of concern with the big free agent hurler?

Plus Matt Forte and Devin Hester retire as members of the Bears. Is Devin Hester’s next stop in Canton? And will the franchise’s career passing leader get a day like this?