- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 22, 2005

Rogers Hornsby?

Joe Morgan?

Johnny Evers, with Tinker and Chance thrown in?

Just who does Alfonso Soriano think he is?

During this joyous holiday season, the Washington Nationals’ newest player is showing no goodwill toward anybody. As far as Nats fans are concerned, he’s acting more like the Grinch who stole Christmas.

The other night at a dinner for Dominican players, Soriano reiterated that he won’t move from second base to the outfield should the club deem it necessary. Alfonso needs to brush up on his spelling because he apparently believes there is indeed an “I” in “team.”

I can’t wait until Al encounters manager Frank Robinson when the Nats reconvene in Viera, Fla., this spring. I guess Soriano hasn’t heard that F. Robby is one of baseball’s toughest guys. The last fool Frank suffered gladly was Bill DeWitt, who traded him from the Cincinnati Reds to the Baltimore Orioles — one of the all-time dumb deals — in December 1965.

It’s not hard to imagine the dialogue going like this:

Robinson: “Welcome to camp, Alfonso. You’re my center fielder.”

Soriano: “I ain’t playing no outfield, booby.”

Robinson: “GROWL! SNARL! ROAR! BOOT!”

The last sound might be Soriano being drop-kicked toward the outfield at Space Coast Stadium.

Just who does Alfonso Soriano think he is?

Such a dramatic confrontation won’t happen if incumbent second baseman Jose Vidro hasn’t recovered from the knee miseries that hindered him last season. But I hope Vidro is healthy, for two reasons. First, he’s an All-Star in his own right and a better all-around player. Second, I’d like to see Soriano put in his place, wherever Robinson decides it should be.

What is it with these athletes who think the world — or at least their sport — owes them a living? Despite his power numbers, Soriano didn’t earn his likely $10million salary for 2006 — he merely benefited from free agency and all the television money being flung around rounders these days. Had he been born 40 years earlier, he would have been lucky to make $25,000 — and he undoubtedly would have played anywhere he was told.

OK, so the guy hits home runs, 141 of them over the last four seasons, and the Nats need a power hitter almost as badly as they need an owner. But he strikes out far too often, an average of 133 times a season during that span, and his .309 on-base percentage in 2005 was 30 points lower than Vidro’s in an off year for Jose.

Fielding, you ask about fielding? Over those four campaigns, Soriano committed so many errors — 86 — that opposing managers probably had a “hit it to second” sign.

Who does Alfonso Soriano think he is?

In his comments the other night, Soriano also suggested he might not re-sign with the Nats for 2007 — one more indication of how he, and too many of his peers, don’t give a rodent’s rump about the club that pays their inflated salaries. I wonder what kind of reception he expects from his possibly temporary teammates in spring training.

Two things the Nats had going for them last season were good team chemistry and a general appreciation for how much their presence in Washington meant to their fans. One selfish guy like Soriano could spoil that next time around, and the Nats need no more problems. With no permanent owner, no firm stadium deal and only half a starting rotation, they’ve got more than their share.

Contrast Soriano’s attitude with that of Jamey Carroll, the little journeyman infielder who hustles every moment he’s on the field and who would play on the moon if Robinson asked him.

Asked last season whether he might be traded, Frank replied, “If Jamey Carroll goes, I go.” He might want to leave for a different reason if Soriano’s intractable behavior continues.

Right now, having Soriano on the ballclub hardly seems worth the trouble, even if he hits, say, 73 homers.

Wait a minute — I’ve figured out who Alfonso Soriano thinks he is.

Barry Bonds, or an unreasonable facsimile thereof.

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