Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Updated: March 22, 1:24 PM ET
Nationals expected to list Soriano at left field again
ESPN.com news services
VIERA, Fla. -- Alfonso Soriano and the Washington Nationals were stuck in a holding pattern Tuesday. The team had a day off, and no one seems to know whether he will agree to move from second base to left field.
"I'm going to think about it," Soriano told MLB.com, saying he was going to talk with his wife and agent. "I want to play, but they have [Jose] Vidro at second base. I will make a decision [on Wednesday morning]."
It's not the first time Soriano's career has been affected by a proposed position change.
He was a shortstop in the minors, then moved to second base late in spring training before his rookie season with the New York Yankees in 2001, when Chuck Knoblauch accepted a shift from second to left field.
Soriano wound up becoming an All-Star at second for New York. Then, in 2004, he was shipped to Texas in the deal that sent Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees (where Rodriguez moved from shortstop to third base).
There was talk that spring of moving Soriano to the outfield, because the Rangers already had a second baseman in Michael Young. But the day before the first full-squad spring workout, Young offered to move over to Rodriguez's old spot at shortstop.
"That's the difference to me: Michael Young is the type who stepped up before we had to make a decision, when Soriano said he wanted to play second base," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday in Surprise, Ariz. "That's why Michael is such a leader on this team."
Texas traded Soriano to Washington this offseason, and he was to make his first appearance in a Nationals uniform Monday night in an exhibition game against the Dodgers. He was listed on a lineup sheet in left field -- the spot Washington wants him to play -- but he refused to go into the game.
"[The Nationals] didn't tell me about the switch until after the trade," Soriano told MLB.com. "[The Rangers] didn't want them to talk, because they know what the problem is. The Nationals had to know how unhappy I would be."
On Wednesday, the Nationals travel to Jupiter for an exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Soriano is expected to be penciled into the lineup in left field again.
"The next step is to write his name in the lineup for Wednesday's game and see if he will show up in Jupiter and go out and play the outfield," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said after Monday's 11-5 loss to Los Angeles.
Soriano's refusal to play in the game prompted Nationals general manager Jim Bowden to threaten putting Soriano on the disqualified list, which would prevent him from playing, accruing service time and receiving his $10 million salary.
"It is a distraction. Absolutely," Robinson said Monday. He wasn't at Space Coast Stadium on Tuesday -- Robinson said he'd be playing golf -- nor were many people associated with the team.
If Soriano is disciplined, the players' association could file a grievance.
"We've been in touch with Soriano and his representatives and we're gathering the facts," said Michael Weiner, the union's general counsel.
Bowden didn't immediately return a phone message, nor did team president Tony Tavares. Soriano's agent, Diego Bentz, didn't respond to an e-mail.
"We have compassion for his position on where he's coming from, but we have a job to try to win baseball games with the team we have," Bowden said Monday. "We're not going to give the player away."
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.