MINNEAPOLIS -- Dale Sveum was Prince Fielder's hitting coach for three seasons in Milwaukee, and on Tuesday, he'll see one of his favorite players again when the Cubs open a three-game Interleague series against the Tigers at Wrigley.
"He's one of my favorite guys I've ever been around and coached," Sveum said. "I don't want to see him in the lineup."
It's not just Fielder's hitting that impresses Sveum.
"He's one of those special guys, not even his numbers, just the way he plays the game and comes to play every single day and comes to win," Sveum said. "He cares as much as anybody I've been around. He loved to talk hitting and goof around. He's one of my favorites and a guy you'll never forget and a guy you'll always pull for, just not those three days."
Since Sveum knows Fielder well, does he know how to get him out?
- 142 wins
- 110 wins
"I know," Sveum said, "But like I said other times when we faced the Brewers, you have to execute. There are some things I see him doing a little better that he struggled with the last couple years. We'll see with the stuff we've got.
"There's ways to get him out, but there's still the execution factor and being ahead in the count has to do with everything when you're trying to put a sequence together when you're trying to get those hitters out."
Soto begins rehab assignment Monday
MINNEAPOLIS -- Geovany Soto, who has not played since May 16 because of a meniscus tear in his left knee, will begin his rehab assignment Monday with Triple-A Iowa.
Soto, who had arthroscopic surgery, said he expects to play three to five games with the Minor League team and could return to the Cubs this coming weekend against the Red Sox.
"It's been tough, especially when you prepare the whole year to be out there," Soto said.
Aches and pains are part of a catcher's job.
"You manage to play with the aches and pains but stuff like this, rehabbing from surgery, that's a little different," Soto said. "It's tough when you see your teammates competing -- you want to compete with them."
Despite struggles, Cubs like approach at plate
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Cubs return home after a less-than-productive road trip, but hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo says there has been no change in the work effort by the players.
"The approach is fine," Jaramillo said Sunday. "Hopefully, we can get a hit with men in scoring position and it kind of rolls from there and good things happen."
The Cubs went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Saturday in an 11-3 loss to the Twins.
"We have to keep working, and hope they can adjust and trust it," Jaramillo said. "The bottom line is you have to believe you can hit when you go to the plate and feel good about yourself and that's what we're trying to do, is make them feel good about themselves for the next day and move on and keep a good positive attitude and be there for them and keep chugging along."
Alfonso Soriano has provided the offense. In the last nine games, the Cubs 3-4-5 hitters have driven in 15 runs, and Soriano has 11 of those RBIs. Soriano said the problem may be a lack of confidence.
"I think it's getting better," Jaramillo said. "That's what you're hoping for. You have to battle that within themselves -- they have to talk themselves into staying positive. 'I can hit, I'm going to hit, and try to get a little swagger.' It's all confidence and believing in yourself that you can, and work on it."
It seems the swagger is missing?
"That's obvious, when you're going the way we're going," Jaramillo said. "When things are going good, you do see it."
Jeff Samardzija played catch Sunday, the day after a tough outing against the Twins in which he gave up a season-high eight runs.
There were some issues with his mechanics, Sveum said, and Samardzija seemed to be trying to "bully his way through the lineup."
Of course, that also could have something to do with the Cubs overall recent struggles.
"I think everybody is trying to do too much, whether it's Samardzija on the mound or whoever," Sveum said. "When he was pitching in Spring Training, he was down in the strike zone, his head wasn't flying off to first base side. Now he's losing a little bit of concentration and the ball is going to get up and you're not going to have command."
One of the recent bright spots has been Soriano, who was 11-for-34 in the last nine games with 11 RBI, five homers and two doubles.
"He works so hard in the cage and watches video and he wants to play every day," Jaramillo said. "I've told him how professional he is and how proud of him I am of the way he goes about it. He's a great example for the younger guys. You couldn't ask for any more about the way he goes about his work. Now he's getting results and it's paying off for him."
Soriano does have a tender left knee, but he has been feeling better since doing some exercises and no longer wears a brace on his knee. Switching to a lighter bat also has helped his swing.
"It definitely doesn't hurt," Sveum said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.