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Soriano: Chicago needs Cubs to be champs

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Soriano: Chicago needs Cubs to be champs

CHICAGO -- Alfonso Soriano celebrated his first night back in town with dinner and some laughs at former teammate Starlin Castro's apartment. There are things that Soriano misses about playing in Chicago, but he was ready for that chapter of his career to close last summer.

After spending 6 1/2 years of his career with the Cubs, arriving at Wrigley Field as a legitimate 40-40 threat and dreaming of leading the club to the World Series, Soriano approved a trade last July that re-fitted him for Yankees pinstripes. He said that New York was his No. 1 choice for a change of scenery.

"The Yankees and me, we're on the same page. We want to win now," Soriano said. "When I played here with the Cubs, they always think about the future; the Yankees are always thinking about the present.

"That's why I picked this team first, to play here, because I'm getting older and I just want to go back, have one more chance to go to the playoffs and go to the World Series."

Soriano said that he loved playing in Chicago, particularly the restaurants and the fans in the left-field bleachers, and that it was strange to be back in the cramped visiting clubhouse underneath Wrigley's first-base grandstand.

"I've played a lot of games for this team here," Soriano said. "I spent almost half of my career with this team; that's why it feels a little weird. I spent six years here, so to play against that team is a little weird. But this is the game, so I've got to do my job now that I play for the Yankees."

Soriano was coming off a 46-homer, 41-steal season for the Nationals in 2006 when he signed an eight-year, $138 million deal with the Cubs.

"When I signed here, that was my dream: to put something together and try to win the World Series," Soriano said. "These fans, this city, they need the Chicago Cubs to be a champion. It's a lot of years [since winning in 1908].

"The fans in Chicago, they need a championship on this side. I know the White Sox won one year, but the Cubs have great fans and it's a big city. They need a champion team."

Soriano said that, from the outside looking in, he could see the Cubs getting on the right path and finally grabbing that elusive championship.

"I've seen it in the past and I see it now; they have a lot of young talent in the Minor Leagues," Soriano said. "I hope when those guys come to the big leagues that they do the job and they can have the chance to win in the future. It's a great city, and I think that city needs a champion."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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