* The Cubs have had 12 players hit at least one home run so far this season, the most among National League teams and tied for second-most in the Major Leagues with the Indians and Rays. Alfonso Soriano is one of the dozen players, but the Cubs had hoped he’d have more than one home run at this point.
“Last year, he was a victim of the wind blowing in every single day at home,” manager Dale Sveum said. “This year, you can’t say that. He’s swung the bat really well off lefties. Hopefully last night, hitting off that tough righty [the Padres’ Brad Brach], that double, that was his best swing off a righty all year. Hopefully that can catapult him.”
Soriano last homered on April 18; in 2012, he didn’t connect until May 15. In April 2011, he set a club record with 10 homers in April. Sveum expects Soriano, 37, to deliver.
“That media guide doesn’t lie when you have 600 plate appearances at the end of the year,” Sveum said.
* Ian Stewart, on a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa, was 4-for-40 in 12 games.
“He’s got to start swinging the bat better, have more consistent at-bats,” Sveum said of the third baseman. “We’ll wait and see.”
Major League players are limited to 20 days per rehab assignment. Stewart’s time expires on Friday.
“Right this second, I don’t think I’m ready,” Stewart told the Des Moines Register on Tuesday. “That’s just me being honest and knowing myself as a player.”
* The Cubs still don’t have a designated closer and Sveum said Tuesday they’ll probably stick to the closer by committee approach when Kyuji Fujikawa returns from the disabled list. Fujikawa, sidelined with a strained right forearm, was to throw a bullpen on Thursday, and if all goes well, he would make a rehab outing Sunday for Triple-A Iowa.
On Monday, Kevin Gregg picked up his fourth save of the season. The Cubs have three pitchers with multiple saves so far, the first time that’s happened in the first month in franchise history since the save became an official stat in 1969. Besides Gregg (four), Fujikawa has two and Carlos Marmol has two. Sveum said he’ll base his decision in save situations on matchups.
“I got [a closer],” Sveum said. “I just don’t know who it’s going to be every night.”
* Looking ahead, Scott Feldman will face former Cub Andrew Cashner on Wednesday, and Travis Wood will close the series Thursday against the Padres’ Eric Stults.
— Carrie Muskat