Yankees get Soriano from Cubs, put him in lineup

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NEW YORK (AP) - Alfonso Soriano took one look around Yankee Stadium and broke into a big, familiar smile.

“This is my house, this is my home,” he said. “I’m happy I have the opportunity to come back to New York _ 10 years.”

The New York Yankees reacquired Soriano in a trade with the Chicago Cubs on Friday, hoping the seven-time All-Star can provide a power boost to a team that desperately needs pop.

Soriano immediately went into the starting lineup, batting cleanup and playing left field against Tampa Bay. The Cubs got minor league pitcher Corey Black and will send almost $17.7 million to the Yankees to cover the rest of Soriano’s rich contract.

“We’ve obviously been trying to improve our offense, to no avail, throughout this season,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “By far, he is the best available bat to date.”

Soriano outhomered the Yankees all by himself (10-8) in the four weeks prior to the deal. Overall, the 37-year-old was hitting .254 with 17 homers and 51 RBIs with the Cubs.

The Bronx Bombers led the majors with 245 home runs last year, but have become the Bronx burn-outs this season, ranking next-to-last in the AL with only 88. Banged up, they’ve played most of the year without Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

Their slump from the right side _ Soriano hits righty _ is even more acute. It’s been a month since a right-hander homered for the Yankees, with Jayson Nix the last to do it on June 25.

Soriano got a big ovation when the public-address announcer read the lineups and welcomed him with “and once again a Yankee.” Soriano saluted the stadium’s Bleacher Creatures during their roll call, and was cheered again when his past Yankees highlights were shown on the video board.

Wearing his socks high, Soriano got an assist when his throw led to an inning-ending out in the top of the second. He led off the bottom half and flied out.

Soriano made his major league debut with the Yankees in 1999 and quickly blossomed into a rare package of speed and power. In 2002, he hit 39 homers and 51 doubles while batting .300, stealing 41 bases, scoring 128 runs and driving in 102.

“He’s not the same player he used to be,” Cashman said, “but he certainly provides some thunder from the right side that we’ve been lacking.”

Cashman hinted, too, that more deals might be in the works.

The Yankees began the day with a 54-48 record and in fourth place in the AL East, 6 1/2 games behind division-leading Boston.

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.

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