NEW YORK -- Mark it on your calendar: July 24, when the Cubs play host to the Florida Marlins at Wrigley Field. Cubs leadoff hitter Alfonso Soriano has that date circled in red ink.
The All-Star left fielder said Tuesday he is aiming for that day to come off the disabled list after breaking his left hand June 11. Soriano also erased any mystery about whether he would go on a minor-league rehab assignment before returning to the Cubs.
''I think I need it,'' Soriano said. ''It's different than with my legs. It's my hands, so I have to test my hands and be confident with that. I have to go one or two games; three would be the most. I have to see some pitches and feel confident.''
For Soriano's timetable to work, he must have a successful weekend in the batting cage starting Friday in Houston, where the Cubs open a series against the Astros. If all goes well there, Soriano could begin his rehab Monday and rejoin the Cubs by that Thursday.
Soriano's original timetable called for him to play in the 79th All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, where he began his major-league career with the Yankees in 1999. He desperately wanted to play in the game but settled for the visit.
''Oh, man, it's great to come back to Yankee Stadium for the last All-Star Game here; it's big,'' said Soriano, who got the loudest ovation of the National League All-Stars during pregame introductions. ''I grew up in this ballpark.''
Maybe the Cubs can secure one more trip to Yankee Stadium before the building closes at the end of the season?
''Yeah, maybe for the World Series,'' Soriano said. ''That would be great. We'll see.''
Well the offense is sputtering right now, so Soriano can definitely help. He does a great job in getting the team a lead, which makes the starting pitchers feel more comfortable. So yeah it'd be awesome to have him back in the lineup- and soon!
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