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Friday, July 26, 2013
Alfonso Soriano hitless in return

By Matt Ehalt
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- New Yankees outfielder Alfonso Soriano was ecstatic to be reunited with his former team Friday, but he had a rough debut as he went 0-for-5 with an RBI and run scored in Friday's 10-6 loss to the Rays.

The Yankees officially acquired Soriano from the Cubs before the game.

Soriano batted cleanup and played left field in his first game with the Yankees since Game 6 of the 2003 World Series on Oct. 25, 2003.

"It's a good day for me today to have the chance to put the uniform back on again," Soriano said. "This is a great organization; I played [with the Yankees] for [five years]. To come back is an exciting moment for me."

Soriano played with the Yankees from 1999 to 2003, developing into one of the best second basemen in the league over his final three seasons with the club. The two-time All-Star with the Yankees hit .284 with 98 homers, 270 RBIs and 121 stolen bases over those five years.

The Yankees traded Soriano to Texas in exchange for Alex Rodriguez prior to the 2004 season.

The Yankees acquired Soriano on Friday for Class A pitcher Corey Black, and the team agreed to pick up approximately $6.8 million over the next two years of Soriano's contract. The Yankees will use him in left field and as their designated hitter, and hope he can provide much-needed power from the right side.

Soriano waived his no-trade clause to complete the deal, and said before the game that he was excited to be reunited with former teammates such Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. He was all smiles before the game as he met with his new teammates, as well as those he knew from his previous stop in the Bronx.

"[It's] never too long," Soriano said before the game. "I see those guys. I see Mariano, I see Jeter, those guys that I played with 10 years ago, and I'm happy to see them and I'm happy I'm back."

Soriano had two chances to come through with big hits Friday but couldn't deliver.

With the Yankees down 6-1 in the third and the bases loaded with two outs, Soriano battled Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson to a full count. Hellickson won the battle as Soriano lofted a soft fly to right on an 82 mph changeup.

In the ninth, with the Yankees trailing 10-5 and the bases loaded with one out, Soriano once again worked a full count, but he rolled over a 97 mph fastball for a fielder's choice that scored a run. Soriano scored his lone run in the eighth inning after being doubled home by catcher Chris Stewart.

"I want to come through but I haven't faced those guys, so I don't know what they throw," said Soriano, who was hitting .254 with the Cubs before the trade. "I have to get more timing and make adjustments because I didn't play in the American League and face those guys. We have a hitting coach and video, so I want to try to make adjustments and get my timing as quick as possible."

The 37-year-old received a nice ovation from the fans during the course of Friday's game.

"It feels great," Soriano said of the reception.