Alfonso Soriano: “I don’t want to be on this team if they don’t want me here”

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Alfonso Soriano is finally showing some signs of life lately, going 16-for-42 (.381) with six homers and four doubles in the last 10 games to bring his overall numbers toward respectability.

And since the Cubs have been looking to trade him for years now the subject is once again being talked about in Chicago, where Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com reports that Soriano is willing to waive his no-trade clause if a contender comes calling.

Or as Soriano phrased it:

I don’t want to be on this team if they don’t want me here. It’s kind of hard and selfish to think [that way]. If they want me to stay here, I’m going to stay here. But if they don’t want me to, the door is open.

Soriano added that it would have to be a “contender” for him to consider the move, but of course non-contenders aren’t going to trade for a 37-year-old left fielder with a .750 OPS owed another $9 million or so for this season and $18 million for next season. And to get any contenders interested the Cubs would no doubt have to eat a significant portion of that remaining money.

Soriano is hitting .263 with a .289 on-base percentage and .459 slugging percentage in 82 games overall, offering good power (13 homers, 22 doubles) and horrendous plate discipline (77 strikeouts, 10 walks).

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.