- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Online exclusive: updated 1:40 p.m.

JUPITER, Fla. - Alfonso Soriano started in left field for the Washington Nationals in today’s exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals, and manager Frank Robinson said he believes the issue has been resolved for good.

Soriano on Monday night refused to take the field despite being penciled into the lineup. He changed his mind after talking with family members and his agent on Tuesday.

He rode the Nationals’ team bus from Viera to Jupiter this morning and after arriving at Roger Dean Stadium told Robinson he would accept the club’s decision to move him from second base to the outfield.

“It’s good to have him here and playing left field,” Robinson said before the game, adding that the matter “is closed.”

Soriano, who worked extensively with Nationals instructor Jose Cardenal in left field during batting practice, spent 10 minutes signing autographs for fans. He led off the top of the first against St. Louis right-hander Jason Marquis, took a high fastball for ball one and then hit a fly ball to the warning track in center field for an out. When the inning ended, he trotted out to left field without incident.

Soriano planned to speak to reporters following the game.

The Nationals acquired Soriano in December from the Texas Rangers for popular outfielder Brad Wilkerson, Terrmel Sledge and a minor league pitcher. Last season, his fourth making the All-Star Game, Soriano batted .268 with 36 home runs, 104 RBI and 30 stolen bases.

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To submit a question, go to the Sports Page

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