CUBS NOTEBOOK: Soriano says he meant no offense

Josh Krockey

One day after his antics infuriated some members of the San Diego Padres, Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano insisted he meant no offense by his animated response to hitting a home run.

The repercussions of that played out Saturday, when Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee was hit by a pitch, sparking a benches-clearing incident between both teams at Wrigley Field.

Four people were ejected, including Lee and San Diego pitcher Chris Young, who threw the pitch that led to the incident.

Just the day before, Soriano caused a sensation after hitting a home run off Padres left-hander David Wells. Soriano ran backward several steps down the first-base line before turning around and going into his home run trot.

The display rubbed some Padres players the wrong way, including Wells and fellow San Diego pitcher Jake Peavy, both of whom criticized Soriano's histrionics after Friday's contest.

“I’ve done that since my first year in the league, so what do I have to change?” Soriano asked. “All the time when I hit a homer, I don’t try to show to nobody. I try to enjoy it.

“I’m not trying to offend somebody. That’s me. A lot of pitchers, when the guy strikes out somebody, they do a lot of things on the mound. I think that’s part of the game. It’s not like I try to embarrass somebody in the game.”

Soriano said he didn’t read or hear about the comments from Peavy, who was tossed Saturday after he ended up on top of Lee in a pile.

“I don’t know (what he said),” Soriano said. “When he pitches, he knows what he has to do. Today, whatever happened, they picked the wrong guy.”

Soriano also is bracing himself for the punishment that awaits Lee - likely a fine and suspension.

“He’s the big guy in the lineup,” Soriano said. “I hope it’s not for long, maybe a couple of games. We have to make adjustments now.”

No need to worry

Mike Fontenot’s stellar play has all but assured he’ll remain with the team once third baseman Aramis Ramirez (left patellar tendinitis) comes off the disabled list, most likely Friday.

“I don’t know where he’s going right now, the way he’s playing,” manager Lou Piniella said of Fontenot. “I don’t think he should have too much concern.”

Fontenot had his seven-game hitting streak snapped Saturday, but still is batting .367 with two homers and nine RBI since being called up from Triple-A Iowa on June 9. The rookie second baseman also has played solid defense in tandem with shortstop Ryan Theriot.

“The kid’s hit for us, turned the double play,” Piniella said. “We talked about getting more set with a lineup and having some left-handed hitting in there, and he’s been part of the equation.”

See no evil

Soriano’s antics Friday apparently went unnoticed by Piniella, who claimed ignorance about the whole matter.

“I didn’t even know he was backpedaling,” Piniella said. “I was watching the ball leave the ballpark.”

Pressed further, Piniella measured his words carefully before responding.

“I saw it leave the stadium,” he said. “Look, I didn’t see. I don’t know what he did. I liked the home run, put it that way.”

On the farm

Daryle Ward made his second rehab start Friday and delivered an RBI double as Triple-A Iowa lost 4-1 to Memphis. Ward, a backup first baseman and pinch-hitter, has been on the DL since June 3 with a strained left hip.

Ward’s hit scored second baseman Eric Patterson, who went 2-for-4 with a double, extending his hitting streak to six games. Shortstop Ronnie Cedeno, who began the season with the Cubs, added a pair of singles. Through Friday, Cedeno was hitting .357 (35-for-98) with seven doubles, one triple, three homers and 10 RBI since joining Iowa on May 8.

Left-hander Ryan O’Malley suffered the loss, allowing two earned runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings. He’s 3-6 with a 7.03 ERA.

The 27-year-old is best known for blanking Houston 1-0 in his major league debut on Aug. 16. Used as an emergency starter, O’Malley scattered five hits over eight innings in getting credit for the win.

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