Soriano named Player of the Month
Cubs slugger led league with 11 home runs in June
Alfonso Soriano sure knows how to rebound from a poor start.With a stellar June that earned him National League Player of the Month honors, Soriano quieted those doubters wondering what was wrong with him when he drove in just one run in April. Soriano hit .336 (41-for-122) with a National League-high 11 home runs and 18 RBIs. He also led the NL with 41 hits and finished tied for the league lead with 20 extra-base hits. Soriano added seven doubles, two triples, 24 runs, 12 multihit games and a .697 slugging percentage. "It was just a matter of time," Cubs second baseman Mark DeRosa said. "The warmer weather has helped. I think the move to left field has helped," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "The fact that he's acclimated to day-night games has helped. And the last reason is he's a very talented young man who's finally hitting his stride." Soriano, selected for his sixth straight All-Star Game on the basis of player votes, hit his stride early in the month when he homered in his first three at-bats June 8 at Atlanta, needing only five pitches to do it. "I'm always very aggressive -- that's the way I lead off," Soriano said. "I felt very good, especially when I hit a homer on the first pitch. So why should I have to wait for another pitch if he's going to throw a strike?" Piniella said performances like that are what the club is looking for out of its star outfielder, whom the Cubs signed to an eight-year, $136 million contract during the offseason. "We knew that he'd get going," Piniella said. "It was just a question of when and how soon. When he's swinging the bat well, it's fun to watch him hit." Soriano homered in three straight games twice during the month, June 2-4 and 22-24. He also recorded five hits June 4 against the Brewers, including a three-run homer that gave the club a four-run cushion in the seventh. It marked the first such game for Soriano since 2002, and it was the first for the Cubs since last August. "I know I got five hits, but I think the home run was the most important hit I had in the game tonight," Soriano said after the game. Alan Trammell, filling in for the suspended Piniella as manager for the night, praised Soriano's offensive prowess in a way that turned out prophetic, at least as far as June goes. "This guy is an offensive threat in more ways than one," Trammell said. "He can do it all. He had a nice night, and he's been hot here for a while. We need it. We need him to be the catalyst to get on base and steal some bases. I think when it's all said and done, he'll have one of those Alfonso Soriano years. This guy is one of the elite players in baseball." The award marks the third time Soriano has been honored, with both coming in 2003 when he played for the Yankees. Sharp, the award's sponsor, will present Soriano with an LC-52D92U 52-inch Sharp AQUOS LCD-TV. He also will get a specially designed trophy. Other players receiving votes were Milwaukee's Corey Hart (.336, nine homers, 21 RBIs), Colorado's Garrett Atkins (.305, eight homers, 25 RBIs) and Philadelphia's Ryan Howard (.280, 10 homers, 27 RBIs) and Chase Utley (.386, six homers, 23 RBIs).
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.