- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 5, 2013

VIERA, Fla. — Rafael Soriano didn’t waste time.

At 3:04 p.m. Tuesday, the final words of “Rock You Like a Hurricane” faded from Space Coast Stadium. The Washington Nationals’ new closer crossed himself, kissed his right hand and pointed to the cloudless sky.

Twelve pitches later, Soriano’s debut finished with the same efficiency that prompted the Nationals to hand him a two-year, $28 million contract to bolster the back end of an already-strong bullpen.

The pitcher was in a hurry to get on the field, according to manager Davey Johnson.

“He’s a character,” Johnson said. “He was ready to go. He said he was down [in the bullpen] throwing knuckleballs trying to kill some time.”

Soriano wasn’t available to speak with the media postgame.

The man who saved 42 games last season for the New York Yankees made quick work of three Houston Astros batters. Justin Maxwell flied out to center field, four feet from the green wall. J.D. Martinez rapped a single to left field, but was thrown out trying to steal by catcher Kurt Suzuki. Then Robbie Grossman struck out swinging.

And as quickly as Soriano appeared, the closer was gone.

Ramos catches on

Wilson Ramos caught three innings Tuesday in his first game action behind the plate since tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament last May.

Hours before the game, Ramos meticulously checked and rechecked his catching gear. The return proved uneventful; Ramos’ only challenge came when he hopped to the right to block a pitch in the dirt in the third inning.

Ramos, who wasn’t available for comment postgame, will get Wednesday off and play designated hitter Thursday.

“He seemed like he’d been catching for a while back there,” said starter Dan Haren, who pitched all three of Ramos’ innings. “I didn’t see him stabbing at balls or anything.”

Bernadina, Dutch advance in WBC

Roger Bernadina singled home a run as the Netherlands defeated Australia 4-1 in the World Baseball Classic to advance to the second round in Tokyo. Nationals farmhand Randolph Oduber, who spent 2012 at Potomac, also plays left field for the Dutch squad.

Around the horn

The Nationals optioned left-handed prospect Matt Purke to Hagerstown as he continues his rehabilitation from surgery on his pitching shoulder. Purke is throwing bullpens at 50 percent of capacity and is expected to be ready to pitch in games by mid-May. … Bo Porter, the former Nationals coach who remains well-liked in the organization, returned Tuesday as manager of the Astros. … Former Nationals prospect Brad Peacock, dealt in the Gio Gonzalez trade, surrendered three hits and two earned runs in ⅔ of an inning. The Astros acquired him from the Oakland Athletics last month in a deal for shortstop Jed Lowrie.

• Nathan Fenno can be reached at nfenno@washingtontimes.com.

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