ST. LOUIS -- Alfonso Soriano may not hit 40 homers again in a season or steal 40 bases but he definitely has fun playing the game.
Go back to the Sept. 15 game in Cincinnati. It was the ninth inning, and the Cubs trailed, 6-4. Tony Campana pinch-hit to lead off and singled. Mike Quade was trying to decide who to use next, waiting to see what Reds manager Dusty Baker might counter with if Campana got on. Soriano was in the tunnel.
"I can hear him, 'I think I got him, babe. I'm feeling good,'" Quade said prior to a 2-1 loss Saturday, relaying the story. "He's the right guy to be able to do that for me. I'm hearing that and it's being said loud enough so I can hear it."
Soriano, 35, did step in, and delivered a pinch-hit RBI double and eventually scored the tying run.
When he got back to the dugout, he pointed at Quade and said, "Good decision, man, good decision."
"Obviously, he's not the guy he was 10 years ago, but I can see where the fun that he has when he was that guy was really something special," Quade said. "When he first got here was a pretty impressive year, too. He finds a way to contribute."
It helps that Soriano not only keeps things relaxed but also has taken an active role as a mentor to Starlin Castro.
"He's as loose and as much fun to be around right now as anybody on this club," Quade said. "He's always been that guy, but he's louder now. 'Cassie's' right. It's always been a part of 'Sori' but it's been as good as I've ever seen it lately. He keeps everybody loose."
Soriano hit his 25th homer Friday, a go-ahead three-run shot in the eighth that helped the Cubs beat the Cardinals, 5-1. His RBI in the first inning on Saturday gave him 27 in his last 28 games. And he's stepped up to help not just at the plate.
"There are different styles of leadership," Quade said. "Some guys are the [tough] stern guys and some guys keep guys loose. 'Sori' has always shown up to work hard and had fun playing. ... He comes back with the same outlook and same smile every day and that matters. As important as it is to do a good job, part of this deal is to have fun.
"'Sori' has been on top of his game," he said.