CHICAGO (AP) -Alfonso Soriano's sore hamstring is healing quickly and the Chicago Cubs center fielder hopes to return as soon as this weekend. Manager Lou Piniella said it'll probably be early next week before his leadoff hitter is ready.
Soriano, who signed a club-record eight-year, $136 million deal in the offseason, missed his fourth straight game Friday after straining his left hamstring Monday against the Padres.
Batting .245 with no homers, one RBI and one stolen base in his first 12 games with the Cubs, Soriano did some running Friday and will do so again Saturday to see how he feels.
``The outcome of that will determine when we get him back in. The trainer seems to think Monday or Tuesday,'' Piniella said.
There's an outside chance Soriano could pinch-hit this weekend against the St. Louis Cardinals, but Piniella wasn't excited about that possibility.
``It's a risky thing. You're sitting there in cool weather, not real loose. If we really had too, I mean, we could,'' Piniella said. ``We'd really try to stay away from it, if it all possible.''
Soriano guessed that he was about 90 percent healthy.
``Running is the problem, not hitting. We'll see how I feel. Maybe I'll play Saturday. I would like to play nine innings. It depends on how I run. But it's up to the manager. I like to play every day,'' he said.
``I had this problem a few years ago and I was back in a week.''
After Soriano was hurt, the Cubs called up Felix Pie, projected as their center fielder of the future. What happens to Pie when Soriano returns is still undetermined.
Soriano said he'd gladly switch from center field - a position he just moved to this season after playing left field a year ago with the Nationals - to accommodate Pie if he stays.
``Why not? It's up to Lou,'' Soriano said. ``Whatever he wants me to do. If he wants me to move to one corner, I will do it. Whatever is best for the team.''

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