Hey, look: Alfonso Soriano is hitting again

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Alfonso Soriano’s huge contract and disappointing production already made him the target of Cubs fans’ scorn, so when he got off to a slow start this season that only increased along with the perception that his presence was playing a part in top prospect Anthony Rizzo remaining in the minors.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Soriano being washed up: He started hitting again.

Soriano had a .200 batting average, zero extra-base hits, and a measly .420 OPS on April 23, but in 29 games since then he’s hit .306 with seven homers, nine doubles, and a .923 OPS.

Soriano might have already been a goner if not for the fact that the Cubs are paying him $18 million this season and owe him the same salaries in 2013 and 2014, but whatever the reason for his remaining Chicago’s everyday left fielder the story surrounding his hitting ability at age 36 has changed dramatically.

There’s still no chance of the Cubs finding a taker for the rest of Soriano’s contract, but at least he’s not just “the guy holding back Rizzo” any longer. For now, anyway.

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.