MESA, ARIZONA – Chicago Cubs are in a rebuild on, and off the field. Wrigley Field is expected to undergo a $500 million dollar renovation over the next several years, and the team is in transition on the field, as GM Jed Hoyer looks to build a World Series contender. Alfonso Soriano is the highest paid player on the Chicago Cubs, and his overall $138 million dollar contract has become a huge problem for the Cubs organization. At age of 37, the San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic native, is making $19 million dollars this season, and he is not the player he once was. The Cubs would love to get rid of his contract, and unload him to a potential World Series contender this season. The often quiet Soriano was made available for an interview following the Chicago Cubs final spring training game at HoHokam Stadium.
How are you feeling?
Alfonso Soriano: I’m feeling great. More importantly I’m very healthy, and the team looks good. I hope everyone can stay healthy, and we can keep doing what we are doing.
How will the changes the Cubs have made in the off-season improve the team?
Alfonso Soriano: I’m very happy with the moves they’ve made. We have a better team this year, and like I said I hope everybody can stay healthy, and work hard to have a good season.
You had 32 Home Runs, and 108 RBI’s last season how can you improve in 2013?
Alfonso Soriano: I think I’m the veteran here on this club, and more importantly I’m feeling healthy, and I have a lot of respect for the Coach (Manager), and they have a lot of respect for me to. I’m very happy where I am now because like I said, I’m feeling good, and I know that my body is feeling good.
You had a few problems with your legs last season, how are you feeling health wise?
Alfonso Soriano: I’m 100%. You know… I’m very surprised how my legs have responded (this spring) and I hope they continue to feel good in the cold weather. That’s the only problem that I have now. I want to see how my legs are feeling in the cold weather, but so far here in the spring my legs are feeling great.
You were removed for a defensive replacement last season, do you think you can stay in for all 9 innings this season?
Alfonso Soriano: It depends on the manager. I want to play 9 innings but it depends on him. I just want to do my work, and I want to do my job to play 9 innings, and see what happens.
Have you been able to improve your defensive side of the game?
Alfonso Soriano: Yes, I’m trying to improve my defense because I want to be a full-time player. I don’t want to be just a dangerous hitter, I want to play good defense, and play 9 innings.
Sometimes you are a player that gets off to a slow start each season, how can you make sure that you don’t start off in a slump this season?
Alfonso Soriano: You know it’s weird. I always have a good start, and last year it took me 6 weeks to hit a homer. I think that can be due to the weather. Sometimes the weather is too cold, and I feel comfortable with cold weather, but I’m working hard, and we’ll see what happens this year. Not only me but we hope everyone has a good start, and that we send a message to the other team.
It’s no secret that the Cubs would like to move some or all of your contract. How do you feel when you hear stuff like that?
Alfonso Soriano: I’m not even thinking about it. I’m just trying to do my job on the field, and not even think about my contract or what they (Chicago Cubs) want to do. I’m just trying to do my job on the field, and help the team win.
Are you at all focused on what’s happening off the field?
Alfonso Soriano: No… not really because I don’t control that situation. I just control my situation to be healthy, and play hard everyday.
Are you happy with the Chicago Cubs or would you like to move on?
Alfonso Soriano: I’m happy. I’m happy with the team, and I hope that we have a very good start, and a good season. But if we don’t have a good start maybe I can go somewhere else to a team that’s going to be a contender in the playoffs.
Is that something you would really like to do?
Alfonso Soriano: Ah… it’s depends, it really depends. Like I said, if we don’t have a good start I just want to move on because I think I have two or three years (left) in my career, and I want to be on a contending team.
Do you have a message for all the Chicago Cubs fans?
Alfonso Soriano: Cubs fans be patient I think we have a very good team this year, and I hope that we can do something special for them.
Thank You very much Alfonso best of luck this season
Alfonso Soriano: Thank You
Notes: In 13 games this season Alfonso Soriano has started off slow. He is batting .275 with no Home Runs, and no RBI’s. Soriano has 1 stolen base, and 5 Runs. The Cubs are last in the National League Central division with a 4-9 record.