Monday, February 18, 2013

Soriano takes it easy in first bullpen

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Rafael Soriano fields a comebacker during Saturday's workout.
VIERA, Fla. -- Pitching among a line of teammates who were rearing back and firing at nearly full velocity, Rafael Soriano stood out from the pack this morning. The new Nationals closer approached his first bullpen session of the spring like a stroll in the park, throwing with perhaps 50 percent effort.

The end result might not have wowed onlookers who were hearing loud thwacks every time Jordan Zimmermann, Dan Haren and Tyler Clippard's pitches were caught. But Soriano wasn't trying to match those teammates or blow away anybody watching him throw.

"He's a veteran guy and knows how to get himself ready," said general manager Mike Rizzo, who watched everybody pitch from behind the row of catchers. "He's just getting the kinks out today and getting some touch-and-feel, command stuff. Just getting the arm loose for the first time."

Soriano, whose arrival at Nationals camp was delayed four days by a visa issue in his native Dominican Republic, has a little bit of catching up to do but would have paced himself even had he reported on time.

The 33-year-old reliever told manager Davey Johnson he needs only 8-to-10 innings of work this spring and needs to pitch on back-to-back days only once before Opening Day. He's not even scheduled to appear on the mound during the first week of Grapefruit League games.

"He knows what he needs to do," Johnson said.

What Soriano's bullpen session lacked in velocity was made up with precision. Catcher Kurt Suzuki emerged impressed with what he saw out of the veteran closer.

"The ball was coming out of his hand nice," Suzuki said. "Even though he was going easy, his slider had some good life to it. I wasn't expecting him to do more than that."

19 comments:

SCNatsFan said...

6 weeks til the opener not worried he wasn't popping the ball

baseballswami said...

This is the one guy that worries me in the clubhouse. If he brings that awful, pinstripe, better-than- you attitude with him I may puke. It worries me when guys set themselves apart and want to operate on their own and with their own set of rules. Gets old as time goes on. He might be the perfect teammate, don't know that yet, but it's a nagging worry.Weth and ALR are respected veterans and you never see them go their own way.

NCNatsie said...

I'm willing to cut him some slack right now, Swami, since he was late getting started.

baseballswami said...

I get that for sure. I think it's more my bias toward all things and people ever associated with his former team. Jeter, that little drama queen putting on his academy award winning sincere face and talking about how his ankle issue was the hardest thing any player has ever faced in the history of baseball. Gag me. I just hope this guy is more down to earth and less Hollywood than the other pinstripers.

NatsJack in Florida said...

swami.....Rafael could have banked 13 Mil, stayed with the evil empire and filed for FA again next year.

And do you really think Rizzo would bring a bad apple into the clubhouse for 2 years?

Remember ..... In Rizzo We Trust......

Teddy Rochlis said...

Remember he was a ray before being a Yankee I think the attitudes of players just depend on the group of people they are around ie johnny damon is the best example I can think of

NatsLady said...

Have to say, not bothered at all that Soriano keeps to himself. He's not paid to socialize, he's paid to pitch. Myself, I am not a social butterfly, I hate parties and schmoozing--I much prefer a long talk with a friend, reading a book, or analyzing and writing. He isn't going to make Storen his friend because he took his job. He might make Storen his admirer, though, or his teacher if he has something to teach. Soriano was with the Rays, you have to wonder how he liked all that foolishness they do, dressing up for road trips, etc. I would HATE it, myself.

NatsLady said...

You can say what you want about the Yankees, but they play SERIOUS baseball, and they licked the tar out of us last year. They were the best-coached and smartest team we met last year, taking advantage of the Nats youth and weaknesses. Let's hope Raffy takes advantage of other teams, now that he's on our side.

sm13 said...

Swami -- I've had the same concerns, but I am hoping that NatsJack and TeddyR have it right. The way you fit into the Yankees clubhouse is to have a giant chip on your shoulder and spit on the rookies. The Nats clubhouse is the polar opposite and I'm hopful that Soriano will adopt the "Nats way" and become an asset to the young guns in the bullpen. And, get about 40 saves (with Drew picking up an extra dozen).

NatsNut said...

I'm glad you said best-coached because I have a feeling Joe Girardi will be top of the candidate list next year.

alexva said...

plus he spent a year sitting next to Mo. I think he brings a lot of that to the Nats kids.

natsfan1a said...

Yeah, I think maybe I'll just wait and see how/what he does this season.

Michael S said...

three words
Nat I Tude

MicheleS said...

so big deal, he's quiet. Fits right in with 2/3 of the team. He has a funky walk on song. (um hello, we have had a few of them).

He will fit in fine.

Iowa Nats Fan said...

Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if quite a few (majority maybe?) players at this level have a fairly strong streak of narcissism about them. You simply don't get this far without being a person whose confidence meter is pegged.

Certainly for us as fans, it's a bonus if they are gregarious and friendly, but I suspect all the club really cares about is that they have a professional effort on the diamond.

Ebby Calvin said...

Planning on following the Nats on the road this year? Good news: The Second Edition of The Ultimate Baseball Roadtrip is now available:

http://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Baseball-Road-Trip-2nd/dp/0762773405
More Grapefruit League Treasures

The authors analyze every major league park in detail. Nats Park gets 16 pages, as the authors conclude "In Short, this is baseball at its finest."

The print in this edition is not as easy to read, but I will treasure this book as I hit as many Nats away games as I can.

sjm308 said...

Wow, so a player that I am willing to bet Swami never paid attention to before the deal is now getting negative vibes because he threw easy in his first session. Give me a break! The guy is not some 20 year old trying to make the club. He is our closer and he has been doing this for years. Do you want him out there jumping around throwing his arm out?? He is a pro, has been with one of the best organizations in baseball even if you hate them. Can't believe that was your first impression but you are intitled to that I guess.

Section 222 said...

I'm fine with relying on veteran players to know what they need to be ready. Zim doesn't look for lots of ABs in the spring. Livo danced to his own drummer. Rafi is entitled to our confidence. He's closed lots of games in the last three years. Very excited to have a veteran in that role for our Worlds Series or Bust (WSoB?) year.

natsfan1a said...

btw, the rose goes in the front, Ebby. :-)

Post a Comment