- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 29, 2005

The question stands: Just who does Alfonso Soriano think he is? In the three weeks since the Washington Nationals sent outfielders Brad Wilkerson, Terrmel Sledge and a prospect to the Texas Rangers for Soriano — one of the game’s premier second basemen — he has mouthed off more than any combination of Nationals players did last year. This cannot be the beginning of the relationship that General Manager Jim Bowden traded for.

Initially, Washington was rightly giddy about the trade: Soriano’s big bat could greatly improve the Nats’ woesome offense. In five seasons between the Rangers and New York Yankees, Soriano averaged 32 home runs, 94 runs batted in and 30 stolen bases. Wilkerson, by contrast, never quite succeeded in Washington, Sledge’s injuries made him underachieve and minor-leaguer Armando Galarraga is a 23-year-old Double A unknown.

The problem, it turns out, is Soriano’s attitude: He’s making a bid to be the team’s first genuine prima donna. Almost immediately, Soriano spoke sourly. He suggested he’d bolt after 2006, and told the Associated Press he wouldn’t consider switching from second base to left field in deference to three-time All Star Jose Vidro — even though Bowden had indicated he would. “I don’t want to change,” Soriano told the AP. “If I haven’t done it before, I won’t do it now.” Soriano said he was saddened to leave Texas — not exactly ingratiating in a new city — and made noises about having to re-learn defense for hundreds of unfamiliar National League hitters.

In some respects it was inevitable that Washington would get a taste of the prima-donna stardom prevalent these days in Major League Baseball. It’s still possible that this is a false alarm: Maybe Soriano simply misspoke in a time of surprise, or maybe he is just trying to increase his bargaining power in the event of another trade. (He reportedly had a better private meeting than the sorry words suggest.)

The options don’t need to be a smackdown or a trade. Soriano just needs to think about things: If perennial All Star Alex Rodriguez can switch positions — as he did it in 2004 to accommodate New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter — Soriano can do it for Vidro.



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