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Soriano, Nats fail to reach solution
VIERA, Fla. — They spent more than two hours talking with each other, then more than 30 minutes talking with the media. And by the time Alfonso Soriano’s first press conference as a Washington National was complete, there was really only one question left to ask.
Aren’t we right back where we started?
It’s going to be difficult for the Nationals not to think that way when they have their first full-squad workout of the spring today. Soriano and Jose Vidro may both be in camp now, raring to go, but there’s been no resolution to the question of Soriano’s position in the field.
And it doesn’t appear there will be for a while. After a lengthy morning meeting with Soriano, his agent and several club officials, manager Frank Robinson said he’ll let the 30-year-old slugger work out at second base for the next week so he can prepare to play for his native Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. What happens when that event is over late next month and Soriano returns to Nationals camp?
“Who knows?” Robinson said. “No decision is going to be made as to whether he is going to play second base or left field today, tomorrow, the next day or when he comes back. Those decisions will be made before we leave Florida.”
Rather than make some declarative statement now about Soriano’s role with the club, the Nationals will instead wait and see how several things — most notably Vidro’s long-injured right knee — play out.
At some point, though, this saga will reach its endgame out of sheer necessity. Either Soriano will agree to the club’s request and move to left field (perhaps against his will), Vidro will not be healthy enough to play and leave second base open for Soriano or general manager Jim Bowden will be forced to trade one of the two.
“Our goal is to win and find a solution that works,” said Bowden, who has made some preliminary trade inquiries with other clubs. “Do we have the solution this moment? No. But we’re going to work towards the solution, and we’ll get one.”
Two months removed from the blockbuster trade that brought Soriano to Washington and sent outfielders Brad Wilkerson and Terrmel Sledge and minor league pitcher Armando Galarraga to Texas, Robinson finally got a chance to talk to his newest star. Joined by Bowden, assistant GMs Tony Siegle and Bob Boone and Soriano’s agent (Diego Bentz), manager and player met for more than two hours at an undisclosed location away from the ballpark.
When they returned to Space Coast Stadium for their press conference, all sides spoke in positive tones and said progress was made. According to sources with knowledge of the meeting, though, little was resolved.
Soriano asked the Nationals if he could play second base until he reports for workouts with the Dominican national team March 3, and the team complied. However, despite pleas from Bowden and his associates, sources said Soriano made it abundantly clear he will not move to left field once he rejoins the team after the tournament, which ends March 20.
Soriano danced around the subject during the press conference.
“I have [12 days] to get ready to play in the world cup at second base,” he said. “So I’m not thinking about outfield right now. We have plenty of time to think about it.”
Asked if he would respect whatever decision Robinson makes, Soriano said: “Yeah, because he’s the manager. I think I have a lot of respect of Robinson. And he’s the manager.”
But if Robinson tells Soriano to play left field?
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