Alfonso Soriano still has enough pain in his left knee every day that he might wind up with a second surgery on the knee depending on what it feels like the rest of the season, he said Saturday.
But the Cubs' left fielder refuses to sit, refuses to complain and refuses to let it alter the way he goes after balls in left during a season in which he's experiencing a defensive rebirth at the age of 36.
Kerry Wood singled out Soriano for that behind-the-scenes toughness as he looked back on the trials and travails of his own career.
``I've got respect for guys that have played this game for a long time because it's not easy to do,'' Wood said. ``I have tremendous respect for what Soriano's doing out there in left field for us this year and the way he's worked and what he's put in knowing what his body's gone through.''
As Soriano said last week in St. Louis, ``I joke with my teammate I'm a warrior.''
The fact is the knee he had surgically repaired in September 2009 because of a meniscus tear hasn't been right much of this season, contributing to issues that already have him on a regular trainer's room schedule for maintenance therapy for his quads, hamstrings and calves.
``He knows,'' Soriano said of Wood, ``because he sees me in the training room getting treatments like he does. But I don't want to say nothing, because I want to play. I know my knee is not 100 percent, but I want to keep playing.''
That attitude is a big reason why he's had the support of his new manager and field staff since they took over.
``He's the biggest surprise for me coming from the other side of the fence,'' manager Dale Sveum said, ``as far as the work ethic and the way he goes about his business and how much he wants to play every single day with the pain that he has to go through with his knee.''
Inflammation has not been a regular issue in the knee, says the team, and the idea of surgery isn't even on the medical staff's radar screen.
But Soriano - who won't blame the knee pain for going without a homer until getting three the last five games -- got a few days off recently to rest the knee and told the Sun-Times that surgery has crossed his mind.
``Maybe after the season,'' he said. ``See how far I can go and after the season check it again, see what they can find in the knee. It's not fun being in pain.''
For now, he's hopeful the warmer weather will make a difference after it seemed to get worse with recent cold-weather games.
``It's not easy,'' he said.
The warm night Saturday seemed to agree with him as he delivered three hits, including a double and a ninth-inning, two-run homer.
``He's good enough to go out there,'' Sveum said. ``He's in one of those streaks I think where he's feeling pretty good at the plate, seeing the ball good and putting good swings on the ball.''