Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs' Garza goes off on fans who boo Soriano

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The more he talked about it after the game Monday night, the more Cubs pitcher Matt Garza got riled up.

And it wasn't about the seven starts he endured without a win before beating the White Sox on Monday, or about the home runs he gave up to A.J. Pierzynksi or Paul Konerko.

It was the verbal beating teammate Alfonso Soriano continues to take from fans and some media for perceived indifference or lack of effort - which came up again Saturday when he didn't run upon hitting a line drive to third that was dropped.

Never mind the natural-reaction element that applies to most hitters in such a case, or the fact he likely gets thrown out by 40 feet even if he runs.

``I get pissed off when the fans treat him the way they do,'' said Garza, echoing teammates and other club personnel in even stronger language. ``That's freaking ridiculous. The guy's doing everything he can. He's hit 20 plus homers every season. He's a gamer. He games up and he does things he shouldn't be doing.

``I love the guy to death. I'll back him till the end. He's a great dude. I love to have him out there. I love having him in the lineup, and he cares so much about what he does and takes a lot of pride in his craft, and it's a lot of respect right there.

``And he deserves a lot more respect from the fans than what he's getting.''

Soriano, who defended Saturday's perceived lapse that night in part by suggesting ``maybe [the fans] don't understand the game because it's a line drive'', on Monday shrugged off the boos that have come and gone, and come again, since the Cubs signed him to that eight-year, $136-million deal before the 2007 season.

Soriano, who hit the longest homer of Monday's game, is the Cubs' hottest run producer, with 13 homers since May 15. And at age 36 he has earned raves from staff and notice from rival scouts about his improved fielding this year.

``When you give somebody the amount of money they give him, fans expect him to be 28 forever,'' Garza said. ``I'm sorry, but time catches up. And for this guy to still be doing what he does, it's amazing. It's outstanding. And not a lot of guys his age can keep doing what he does. And the few that do it, they're well respected. And this guy catches grief.''

Like Kerry Wood noted upon his retirement last month, Garza talked about the physical therapy Soriano undergoes daily just to keep playing with a balky left knee that has flared repeatedly this season.

``He games up every day and he's ready to go,'' Garza said, adding of fans who boo him, ``They need to stop seeing what they see and just look at the man himself. He's in the lineup every day and when he's not he's pissed off. That tells you he's a gamer right there. And he's done it for plenty of years, and he's going to keep doing it until they tell him to stop.''

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I'm ashamed of my fellow Cub fans sometimes when they do shit like this. He works hard. He has a good attitude. He was a gamble that we took to win a championship that didn't go our way. We rode the guy to the playoffs TWICE and when we got there we choked both times. Guess what? He can't do it all himself.

I blame certain "prominent" writers that cover the Cubs. Firstly, they only have bad things to say, in general.Then they go off about a guy's salary. So what? It is mind numbing to have to read the same shit everyday about how much he gets paid and how he is not earning it. The guy got paid what the market said he was worth at the time. There's nothing that can be done about it now. Move on. No one talks about writers' salaries and how they all regurgitate what each other says. As far as I'm concerned, the only writer earning his keep day in and day out is John Arguello. All you other guys need to step it up.

I don't care how much he gets paid (It's entirely too much) he still needs to do his job!! Would you still get paid if you decided to be lazy and only work hard when you felt like it. For the money he makes running hard everytime is the least he can do. I know he hasn't lived up to what was expected of him and all ballplayers have bad days but hustling is something that he can do everyday no matter if he is slumping or not. I don't care if its a routine grounder, a line drive or a double that could have been a triple, RUN OUT OF THE BOX!!!! You never know what is going to happen, players make errors.

I was critical of Soriano the last couple years but I agree with Garza. He stepped up his defense quite a bit this year. Playing very hard with his knee and age. I'll give him that line drive. More of the young players should be looking at Sorianos drive for the game.

Lately most fans at Wrigley are either tourists or recent transplants from colleges around the rest of the midwest. The days of the weather beaten Cubs fan are gone, all you'll get now are fair weather partiers.

Soooo, David, you give 100% at work all the time? Never stop that hard work to read an internet story at 9:07AM?

That Soriano line drive/dropped ball/not running play hubub was ridiculous. Soriano has had his share of mistakes in the past, but he has hustled his rear off this year. This was NOT a mistake of laziness or not hustling. By the time he finishes his swing, that hard-hit ball is in the glove of the defender. When he dropped it, Soriano starts to run, but then the ball is already on the way to first so he pulls up. You, I, or anyone else would have had the same set of reactions.

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