Extra bases

Extra bases

• Alfonso Soriano has been on a hot streak, and the difference seems to be his hands.

The Cubs outfielder entered Wednesday's game batting .400 in his last 11 games with eight home runs, four doubles and 17 RBIs.

"You ask any hitter, and if they say their hands are working and their hands are fast, you don't have to speed up, you feel you can hit any fastball," Sveum said. "[Tuesday], I think he hit a 96 [mph] high fastball. It comes down to how you feel with your bat speed."

• All-Star Travis Wood will close the first half of the season on Sunday night against the Cardinals, and will likely start the Cubs' second game of the second half on July 20 at Colorado. Sveum said they're still finalizing the rotation order, but Jeff Samardzija was expected to open the series against the Rockies July 19.

• Junior Lake was slowed this spring because of a back injury and was playing at Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs were currently carrying an extra reliever and Lake needs a little more development before he is added.

"We love how he's performing," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Wednesday of Lake. "We're excited about his progress. I think right now, it's a little early [to promote him to the big leagues]. Let's get him some consistent playing time.

"A big part of his value is he can play infield and outfield," Hoyer said. "He's such a great athlete. I don't know where he winds up at the end but if he's a guy who can move around a lot, there's a ton of value [in that]. He's an exciting piece of the future."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.