Lucky No. 13 for Soriano


Lucky No. 13 for Soriano

Apparently, 13 is Alfonso Soriano's new lucky number.

On Friday the 13th, Soriano moved into 13th place on the Cubs' all-time leaderboard for home runs.

The 36-year-old outfielder has been battling a creaky knee for the entire season and with a rain delay that lasted just shy of four hours, it would not have been crazy to see him scratched from the lineup on a slippery playing surface.

But Soriano played on and powered the Cubs to a 8-1 victory over visiting Arizona in the first game of the second half. Soriano swung early and often -- he only saw eight pitches in four at-bats -- but had two doubles, two homers, three runs and five RBI to show for it.

The five RBI tied his career high, which he has reached seven times, the last of which came Sept. 6, 2008 in Cincinnati.

The four days off during the All-Star break appears to have done wonders for Soriano.

"I told him he's getting four more days off," manager Dale Sveum said with a laugh. "That was impressive...That was huge. Coming out of the break for him to get hot, that would be huge. We could keep this thing rolling with him going."

Soriano said he cleared his mind and his body during the four-day layoff and that his leg has been feeling good the last month or two.

It showed on his first first double in the second inning, in which he hustled into second, advanced to third on Geovany Soto's fly out to center, and then scored on a wild pitch.

The first homer -- in the fourth inning -- left the ballpark, landing on Waveland Ave. for some lucky fan.

The second bomb was a dagger for the Diamondbacks, a three-run shot that just barely snuck into the center-field seats. It was Soriano's 149th in a Cubs uniform, which moved him into 13th place all-time in franchise history. He passed Mark Grace in the process, who ironically was in the house, working as a TV broadcaster for the Diamondbacks and singing the Seventh Inning Stretch.

Soriano added another RBI double in the seventh and coasted to one of his best games in a Cubs uniform.

Just under a month ago, Soriano was booed mercilessly by fans at Wrigley after failing to run out a line drive against the Red Sox. Friday, he was cheered and revered among the Wrigley faithful.

For all the criticism he's taken, the veteran outfielder is on pace for 32 home runs and 100 RBI this season. He raised his batting average 10 points and his OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) 43 points in Friday's game alone.

"It's nice that he's doing it for us," Sveum said. "We've played almost 90 games now. Seventeen homers and 53 RBI is pretty good for a guy that wasn't expected to do a whole lot this year. He's done one heck of a job for us."

Soriano attributes the new front office regime for sticking with him after a couple rough years.

"I'm very happy with the coaches and GM and president, because they show me respect and confidence in myself," he said. "I haven't had that in three or four years."

Soriano admitted it was great to have such a successful game at the plate, but at the end of the day, he was more worried about the victory.

"There was a lot of rain, but more importantly, we got the win," he said, flashing his trademark smile. "It's a long day, but you know, when you get the win, it doesn't matter how long you stay here."

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Former first-round pick Kevin White hasn't caught a break -- or a touchdown -- through the first three years of his career. He has more season-ending injuries than 100-yard games and after an offseason focused on upgrades at wide receiver, White's future in Chicago beyond 2018 is very much in doubt.

Ryan Pace declined the fifth-year option in White's rookie contract, making this a prove-it year for the pass-catcher who once resembled a blend of Larry Fitzgerald and Dez Bryant during his time at West Virginia.

He's getting a fresh start by new coach Matt Nagy.

"He is healthy and he's really doing well," Nagy told Danny Kanell and Steve Torre Friday on SiriusXM's Dog Days Sports. "We're trying to keep him at one position right now so he can focus in on that."

White can't take all the blame for his 21 catches, 193 yards and zero scores through 48 possible games. He's only suited up for five. Whether it's bad luck or bad bone density, White hasn't had a legitimate chance to prove, on the field, that he belongs.

Nagy's looking forward, not backward, when it comes to 2015's seventh pick overall.

"That's gone, that's in the past," Nagy said of White's first three years. "This kid has a new future with us."

White won't be handed a job, however.

"He's gotta work for it, he's gotta put in the time and effort to do it," Nagy said. "But he will do that, he's been doing it. He's a great weapon, he's worked really hard. He has great size, good speed. We just want him to play football and not worry about anything else."

Nagy on Trubisky: 'He wants to be the best'

Nagy on Trubisky: 'He wants to be the best'

The Bears concluded their second round of OTAs on Thursday with the third and final set of voluntary sessions scheduled for May 29-June 1. Coach Matt Nagy is bringing a new and complicated system to Chicago, so the time spent on the practice field with the offense and quarterback Mitch Trubisky has been invaluable.

"We’ve thrown a lot at Mitch in the last 2 ½ months,” Nagy told Dog Days Sports’ Danny Kanell and Steve Torre on Friday. “He’s digested it really well.”

Nagy’s implementing the same system he operated with the Chiefs, an offense that brought the best out of Redskins quarterback Alex Smith. The former first-overall pick went from potential draft bust to MVP candidate under Andy Reid and Nagy’s watch.

Nagy admitted he and his staff may have been a little too aggressive with the amount of information thrust upon Trubisky so far.  It took five years to master the offense in Kansas City, he said, but the first-year head coach sees a lot of similarities between his current and past quarterbacks.

"These guys are just wired differently,” Nagy said when comparing Trubisky to Smith. “With Mitch, the one thing that you notice each and every day is this kid is so hungry. He wants to be the best. And he’s going to do whatever he needs to do. He’s so focused.”

Smith had the best year of his career in 2017 and much of the credit belongs to Nagy, who served as Smith’s position coach in each season of his tenure in Kansas City. He threw for eight touchdowns and only two interceptions during the five regular season games that Nagy took over play-calling duties last year.

Nagy said Trubisky has a similar attention to detail that Smith brought to the Chiefs’ quarterback room.

"Each and every detail that we give him means something. It’s not just something he writes down in a book. He wants to know the why,” Nagy said of Trubisky. “He’s a good person that is in this for the right reason. His teammates absolutely love him. It was the same thing with Alex [Smith] in Kansas City.”

A locker room that believes in its quarterback is a critically important variable for success, one that Nagy already sees exists in Chicago.

"When you have that as a coach and when you have that as being a quarterback, not everybody has that, and when you have that you’re in a good spot.”