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Hitting sixth seems to make sense with Soriano
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 7/29/2009 8:00 PM

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Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee had an interesting theory about teammate Alfonso Soriano.

Soriano was moved out of the leadoff spot on July 4 and has batted sixth most of the time since then.

The move has been a rousing success.

Soriano belted his 19th homer of the season in Wednesday's 12-0 victory over the Astros. In 17 games out of the 6-hole, Soriano is 24-for-64 (. 375) with 5 homers and 15 RBI.

Lee said he didn't believe the surge has anything to do with Soriano being more "relaxed."

"I think Sori just went through a funk, like all hitters do," Lee said. "He went through a two-month slide. Even if he was batting sixth, he probably would have gone through it. But he got his stroke back. And this is the Sori we know."

Soriano hit a 3-run homer in Wednesday's first inning. He won Monday night's game with a grand slam.

For the season, he's batting .251 with 19 homers and 48 RBI. Last season, he hit 29 homers and drove in 75. He figures to have plenty of RBI chances batting sixth.

"If you hit a leadoff homer, that's only 1 run for the team," he said. "But today, my first pitch, my first at-bat, I hit a 3-run homer so I think has more of an effect for the team, and I can help the team because I can have some more RBI.

"I like to score a lot of runs. But now, I'm feeling good at home plate, and I can get a lot of RBI with D-Lee and Ramy (Aramis Ramirez) ahead of me because they're hitting."

Soriano entered the Fourth of July batting .226. He has heard boos from the Wrigley Field faithful, and even he seemed amazed at how fast things have changed.

"It is, it is," he said. "It was frustrating. I know I had, like I said, not a good first half. But now it's a new half. It's the second half, and I feel very comfortable at home plate."

Cubs manager Lou Piniella says it looks to him like Soriano indeed is more relaxed.

"It really does," Piniella said. "I think he's settled in. I think he's very comfortable there. He's hitting the ball for power. He's driving in runs. His at-bats, to me, look a lot better. So I think he's found a home there in the middle part of the lineup."