- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Washington Nationals fired bullpen coach John Wetteland yesterday.

Problems between Wetteland and manager Frank Robinson have been ongoing since spring training. The club contemplated sacking Wetteland a month ago but had hoped it could reach the All-Star break before making the move.

“He just didn’t conform to the way I wanted things done out there in the bullpen,” Robinson said. “I talked to him on a number of occasions. I’ve never talked to a bullpen coach as much as I talked to him about that situation. It started in spring training and it’s carried over right into yesterday. I had enough, to the point where he was kinda saying, ‘I hear ya, but I’m going to do things my way out there.’”

Robinson said he’ll have an interim bullpen coach in place for today’s series opener against the New York Yankees at RFK Stadium.

The relievers “seemed to focus a little bit more on practical jokes and fooling around out there in the bullpen instead of focusing and concentrating on the game and keeping their minds focused on what they would have to do later if they came into the ballgame to get people out,” Robinson said.

Wetteland, 39, had not coached in the big leagues before this season. Wetteland has been offered another position within the organization.

Soriano uncertain

Alfonso Soriano is undecided whether he will play second base or the outfield next year. Soriano, whose contract runs out at the end of the season, also sounds as if he is ready to test the free-agent market.

“I have three more months to think about what I have to do, if I want to stay in left field or go back to second base,” Soriano said.

Soriano hears his name bantered around in trade talks. He said he would prefer to finish the season in Washington.

“I don’t like half and half, start here and finish with another team,” Soriano said. “But, if [a trade] happens, I have to live with that.”

This weekend, Soriano faces one of his former teams, the Yankees, who might have an interest in acquiring him.

“If it happens that I have to go play for the Yankees because [the Nationals] trade me, I have to go play the outfield,” Soriano said.

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To

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