HOUSTON -- The year was 2004 when Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano, then playing for the Rangers, earned the All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player Award at Minute Maid Park. Soriano started the American League rolling with a three-run homer in the top of the first inning off then hometown hero Roger Clemens. Soriano, who was a second baseman at the time, also singled off Randy Johnson in his 2-for-3 performance. "I was very happy because that was my first year playing in Texas," said Soriano, who was traded from the Yankees to the Rangers for Alex Rodriguez. "I got the MVP, so it was good for all those people who voted for me. That's a good memory that I have."
The AL, which scored six runs in the first inning, won 9-4. Did it seem like seven years ago to Soriano, who turned 35 in January?
"Wow," he said. "That's a long time ago."Soriano said he will probably appreciate the award even more in the future. "When I'm retired, I can say to my kids, my family, 'Look, I played in the All-Star Game and I was MVP,'" he said. Minute Maid Park's left-field fence, a mere 315 feet down the line from home plate, can be very tempting for a right-handed power hitter. "I love it, but sometimes that left field being very short takes me out of my rhythm, because it's very short," Soriano said. "Because it's so short, I try to pull everything. But that's not the right thing to do."