A torrid June by Soriano, during which he hit .336 with 11 homers and 18 RBIs, helped start the turnaround for the Cubs, who are contenders in the NL Central. They are the type of numbers the Cubs had been expecting to see from the outfielder but didn't quite see in the first month of the season when Soriano struggled."He wasn't playing like Alfonso Soriano, but he was still hitting .300, so it wasn't like he was completely scuffling," Lee said. "He's caught fire now, and he's carrying us. When you've got a guy in the leadoff spot who can make it 1-0 right away or get on base with a single and steal, it's a huge threat. We're on his back, and he's been fun to watch." Soriano admits that it took a period of adjustment for him at first in Chicago. And though the first few months weren't the easiest, Soriano couldn't be happier with how he feels about his game heading into his sixth All-Star appearance. "I feel very good about where I am now," Soriano said. "The first month and a half I was not as comfortable because it was a new city, new contract and new teammates. But now I know everybody and know the city, and I'm excited about the second half." Both players were excited about adding yet another All-Star appearance to their resume, but there was something different about this time compared to their previous stints. This time, they both feel like their team is a possible contender, and that makes it a little easier to enjoy the event. "We were hoping we could gel in spring and get out of the gates quick," Lee said of the Cubs. "It didn't work out that way. We had a lot of new faces, an entirely new coaching staff, and everyone was kind of feeling each other out.
"The chemistry is there now. We're moving as one unit, and I think it shows on the field. And it's why we're so excited for the second half to start."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.