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Soriano ready to test knee at full speed

Soriano ready to test knee at full speed

MESA, Ariz. -- Alfonso Soriano, coming back from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, said Monday he hasn't run full speed yet but expects to be 100 percent by Opening Day.

The Cubs outfielder reported to Fitch Park a day before the first full-squad workout to unpack, say hello to old friend Rudy Jaramillo, and give an update on his knee. Soriano rehabbed this offseason at the team's academy in the Dominican Republic.

"I'm not running 100 percent," Soriano said. "That's why I said I don't feel 100 percent, because I'm not running 100 percent. I'm running 75, 80 percent and I don't feel anything at all. But when I start running 100 percent, I'll know how I feel."

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The Cubs' medical staff advised Soriano to not run full tilt this winter to avoid any setbacks.

"We'll see in one week when I test my knee running in the field," Soriano said. "My knee will tell me how I feel."

What will likely be the hardest part of Soriano's rehab will be the mental part. He has to trust that his leg is healthy.

"I say in my mind I'm 80 percent but that's because I'm not doing anything like playing in the field," he said. "When I test it, I hope my knee feels better than I think. I think it's 85 percent. Maybe when I test it, it's 100 percent."

"He's ready to go," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said of the left fielder. "He says his knee hasn't bothered him."

That's good news for the Cubs and Soriano, who struggled through a disappointing season in '09. He batted .241 with 20 homers and 55 RBIs and lost his job as the leadoff man. Now, he's projected to hit fifth or sixth in the order, and won't be expected to steal 40 bases. It was difficult to play with the discomfort in his legs, but he won't use that as an excuse. It's time to move forward.

"It's a new year," Soriano said. "Whatever happened last year is past. It's 2010 now, and we have to concentrate on 2010 and see what 2010 will bring."

What the new year does bring is Soriano being reunited with Jaramillo, who was his hitting coach in Texas in 2004 and '05.

"I can't wait to get back to work with him," Soriano said.

Soriano has been hitting in the Dominican and that's gone well. He'll be asked to drive in runs, not set up the other hitters. It's a new year.

"I hope this year to be more healthy and help the team to win," he said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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