CINCINNATI – Despite a hand wrapped in ice after Saturday’s doubleheader opener and a sore knee that hobbled him earlier in the year, Alfonso Soriano says he feels as fresh as that day in 1999 when he made his major league debut.
Even after 1,000 RBIs, a milestone he reached with a first-inning home run in Game 1, Soriano isn’t thinking about all the miles he’s logged.
“Oh man I’m very proud (of the RBI milestone) because I remember my first year and I didn’t even think that I was going to be here now; time flies,” he said. “I feel like the same kind of guy who loves the game, loves to play it every day and I feel like this is my first year in the big leagues. I know it’s my 13th, 14th year in the big leagues but I don’t feel it that way. I just feel like this is my first year and I still love the game.”
Soriano is now a cleanup man, who has tidied up for 73 RBIs this season, but driving in runs hasn’t always been a breeze. Sure there have been struggles throughout the years, but a lot of it had to do with his placement in the lineup.
“Personally I’m so surprised to get 1,000 RBIs because most of my career I batted leadoff,” said Soriano, who is still suffering from hand soreness after getting spiked at second base in a game at San Diego on the last road trip. “To have 1,000 RBIs is a lot, but I’m very proud of myself.”
His career arc that led him from leadoff man to cleanup hitter has allowed him to join a select group.
Soriano is now one of just six players with 1,000 career RBIs, 400 doubles, 350 home runs and 250 steals. Others in the group: Barry Bonds, Andre Dawson, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield.
“I’d be more than happy to be in that kind of group because these guys are Hall of Famers and they played the game for many years,” Soriano said. “I’m happy to be in that group.”