So who needs Anthony Rizzo when you have Alfonso Soriano?
That's what the Cubs apparently felt as they opened a weekend interleague series at Target Field against the Minnesota Twins.
A few weeks back, the talk had been that the Cubs would call up Rizzo, their first-base phenom, for games in American League Parks and use him or somebody else as the designated hitter.
They decided against that and went with "somebody else" against the Twins. That somebody else, Soriano, hit a pair of monster home runs as the Cubs fell 8-7 to the Twins in 10 innings on an RBI single by Josh Willingham. The Cubs are 1-7 on the current 10-game road trip as they fell to 20 games under .500 (19-39) for the season.
As has been their stated position for months, the Cubs would like to give Rizzo as much time as possible at Class AAA Iowa, not to mention not wanting to accelerate his major-league service-time clock.
So Soriano it is.
"Yeah, and we thought better of it, and obviously we didn't do it," manager Dale Sveum told reporters about the Rizzo situation. "And there are no plans to do it against the White Sox either."
The Cubs began a stretch of 12 straight interleague games Friday, but they'll need a DH only in Minneapolis and at the White Sox (June 18-20).
Rizzo entered Friday with a hitting line of .365/.428/.720 with 18 homers and 49 RBI at Iowa. Sveum talked a couple weeks ago of bringing him up.
"It's serious talk," Sveum added. "It's just more of 'When is that day going to happen? When is the right time?' You don't sit down and say 'Should we do it tomorrow?' We haven't done anything like that."
Until then, they'll go with Soriano, who has hit 11 home runs, all since May 15.
He connected in the first inning on a solo homer to straightaway center field to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. The homer was estimated to have traveled 431 feet. In the eighth inning, he gave the Cubs a 7-6 lead with a 2-run blast to the third deck in left field. The homer was the 351st of Soriano's career.
The DH role seems to agree with him even though Soriano hates coming out of the lineup as a position player.
"I love to play," he told the media. "(The DH) is a part-time job. "I have to put in my mind that I'm playing, but I'm sitting on the bench."
In addition, Soriano has been bothered by a sore left knee, which has limited his mobility in the field even though he has worked hard on his defense and has played the field better than in recent years.
"I'm not happy just because I hit a homer," Soriano said. "That's not enough for me. I felt happier in April when we played good and got some wins. … Now I hit a homer and we didn't get a win. I just don't think about me. We have 25 players here, and I just think about my team."
On the mound, the Cubs got 5 innings of 6 hit, 3-run ball from lefty Travis Wood, who was in line for a victory. But reliever Randy Wells gave up a pair of runs in the sixth. The game-winner in the 10th came off Shawn Camp.