Notes: Soriano arrives at camp early
Piniella gives confidence boost to pitchers, building foundation
MESA, Ariz. -- Outfielder Alfonso Soriano was an early arrival to the Cubs' camp, working out Thursday on the first day for pitchers and catchers at Fitch Park. Position players do not have to report until Monday.
"He came in here and got a head start," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "It sends a good message."
Soriano, who signed an eight-year, $136 million deal this offseason with the Cubs, did hit and also worked on his defensive skills along with outfielders Felix Pie and Chris Walker.
Piniella also delivered a message to the pitchers and catchers in camp before the first workout.
"I told them we have the makings of a very good pitching staff, and I really mean that," Piniella said. "We have a lot of experience and a good combination of left-handed and right-handed pitchers.
"I told them to work hard and that we'll have some fun here -- be nice and relaxed and loose," Piniella said. "I like that atmosphere anyways. I like to kid around. I hope they don't take me too seriously sometimes."
Piniella then introduced new Triple-A Iowa pitching coach Mike Harkey, and told the players, "Don't get too familiar with him." He was joking.
Cubs players are getting to know Piniella.
"He's a competitive spirit and an emotional guy," pitcher Ted Lilly said. "Certainly players have responded well to that over his career. He's a very respected manager in this game."
What about Piniella's emotional outbursts?
"I think with him there's nothing fake about it," Lilly said. "There are probably some guys out there who maybe aren't as genuine. From my perspective, I can't see him doing it for show. He's that into it."
Lilly hadn't heard about the alleged pool among the players as to when Piniella does go ballistic.
"I imagine if he goes and lets loose on an umpire, we'll probably be trying to hold back a smile in the dugout," Lilly said.
Super cuts: You can't miss Jeff Samardzija. The former wide receiver has the longest hair in camp. His locks did not go unnoticed by Piniella.
"I like everything I saw, but the hair," Piniella said of the right-handed pitcher, expected to open the season at Class A Daytona. "It could use a little trim."
Does Piniella have any rules regarding hair length?
"No, I don't," he said. "I thought it was just a little too long. I mentioned it to our pitching coach, and our pitching coach mentioned it. We're not going to make a big deal out of it, believe me."
Samardzija was probably looking for a stylist.
Good cause: Chicago artist John Hanley is teaming up with Derrek Lee and his 1st Touch Foundation to offer limited edition prints of the first baseman with a large portion of the proceeds going to the foundation. Lee is raising money for the fight against Lebers Congenital Amaurosis (LCA). His daughter, Jada, has LCA, an inherited form of blindness, and has lost vision in one eye.
There are 500 16-by-20 prints that are available for $65 signed and numbered by Hanley. There also are 25 artist proofs signed by Lee for $400. The original oil painting, which is 30-by-40, is signed by Lee and also available.
Hanley says 70 percent of the proceeds from the sale of each Lee signed print, 60 percent of the artist-only signed prints, and 50 percent of the sale of the original painting will be donated to the foundation.
Go to johnhanleyartist.com for more information and to see the painting.
Extra bases: Jason Marquis is wearing No. 21, the first Cub to do so since Sammy Sosa. "To me, it's a number on my back," Marquis said. "I've worn it all my life." ... Cubs pitcher Will Ohman is in expensive territory. His locker at Fitch Park is located between Aramis Ramirez, who signed a $75 million deal this winter, and Soriano, who signed a $136 million contract. ... Among the other early arrivals were Pie, Ryan Theriot and Scott Moore. ... When Under Armour's logo is painted on the outfield doors, it won't be the first time Wrigley Field will have advertising in the outfield. There were signs on the right-field wall from 1918-1920, and the Cubs actually changed the signs several times. Wilson Sport Equipment was one of the advertisers.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.