“It’s been a struggle to score runs,” manager Joe Girardi said about a half-hour before the trade was announced. “We’re looking for run producers and guys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark.”
Soriano got his old No. 12, with Vernon Wells shifting to No. 22. The Yankees optioned outfielder Thomas Neal to Triple-A to make room for Soriano.
Soriano waived his no-trade clause to rejoin his old team. Always smiling, he was popular with teammates and fans for five seasons before New York traded him to Texas in a deal for Rodriguez.
“He’s played there before,” Granderson said earlier in the day at the team’s spring training complex in Tampa, Fla. “That’s one thing that is a difficult thing to adjust to.”
“You’ve got to come to New York and can you handle it, can you not? Obviously he had in the past,” he said.
Soriano has never played a regular-season game at the new Yankee Stadium. He did, however, hit a home run in his lone game at the ballpark — in April 2009, the Cubs played a pair of exhibition games at Yankee Stadium before the official opener.
Soriano has hit 389 career home runs while playing for the Yankees, Texas, Washington and the Cubs.
In the 2001 World Series, Soriano hit a home run that almost became part of the Yankees’ lore. His go-ahead shot in the eighth inning off Curt Schilling in Game 7 put New York close to another championship, but Arizona rallied in the ninth to win it.
A free swinger, Soriano is known more for power than getting on base. He’s drawn just 15 walks in 93 games this season.
The deal was the latest move for the Cubs before the July 31 deadline for trades without waivers. This month, they traded pitcher Matt Garza to Texas and pitcher Scott Feldman to Baltimore.