Results tagged ‘ Rafael Soriano ’
By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter
One of the Nationals’ most controversial managerial decisions of the season occurred in the ninth inning of Thursday’s win against the Pirates. And manager Davey Johnson wasn’t the one who made it.
After Johnson was ejected in the fifth inning, bench coach Randy Knorr assumed the team’s managerial duties and decided to remove closer Rafael Soriano from the game in the ninth. Knorr put in rookie Ian Krol, who walked Pedro Alvarez, struck out Jose Tabata and then allowed a two-run single that tied the game.
“In the past, I’ve seen [Soriano] pitch and when it’s not a save opportunity, he doesn’t have the same effect when he’s pitching,” Knorr explained. “He wasn’t throwing the ball over the plate and a couple lefties were coming up. I like the way Krol throws the ball. Figured if you don’t want to be in that mode to shut the game down, I’ll bring somebody else in.”
When asked Friday morning if he agreed with Knorr’s decision, Johnson said that he didn’t know.
“I know I was watching in my office, and I don’t try to control things from my office. Once I get ejected, I’m done,” Johnson said. “I [would] want to see it coming out of his hand and the way hitters are reacting. But, a good baseball man trusts whatever they do.”
Friday’s ninth inning marked the first time that Soriano has pitched less than one inning all season, but Johnson doesn’t think that will affect him.
“No, I mean, he’s a professional,” he said. “Strange things happen in a baseball season. He’s been hooked before.”
The Nationals’ relievers are off to a slow start, allowing 20 runs in 21 2/3 innings entering Wednesday action against the White Sox. Ryan Mattheus and Drew Storen are the only pitchers in the bullpen with an ERA of 3.00 or lower. After seven games last year, the relievers allowed just six runs in 20 1/3 innings.
As recently as Tuesday night, the Nats’ bullpen allowed six runs to the White Sox. The big blows came when Paul Konerko hit a three-run homer off Tyler Clippard, while Rafael Soriano allowed a two-run homer to Alex Rios.
But pitching coach Steve McCatty isn’t worried about the bullpen and feels it will get its act together soon. All that matters to McCatty is that the Nationals are winning. The team is 5-2 entering Wednesday’s action.
“Yesterday was two mistakes and we didn’t hit our spots – fastball in and a slider away,” said McCatty who was referring to Clippard and Soriano. “Do I have any concerns? No. Could they do better? Sure. But it’s still early. Clip didn’t give up a run all spring, so something is going to happen. Sori has a little tweak in his leg and that is not an excuse, but it was a pitch we knew you can’t throw that kind of mistake — breaking ball that spins over the plate. He left it in there.
“Everybody is looking at the first seven games that we are playing. Could we be sharper? Sure. Is there a reason to doubt it? No. There is going to be stretches during the season, where everybody is going to have their moments where everything is clicking together. But fortunately, the offense has been good enough that we are still able to get the wins.”
McCatty said he doesn’t have any concerns about anyone in the bullpen, including Henry Rodriguez, who is coming off elbow problems.
“Henry has done better. His arm is feeling fine,” McCatty said. “With him, every once in a while, he has a tendency to overthrow. We know that. But the next time out [against the Reds] he threw nine pitches. So it’s an on-going thing with him. He is still a young kid and learning what he needs to do every time. Am I concern about him? No. He has unbelievable stuff. He has to learn how to harness it.”
Nationals closer Rafael Soriano was not productive during Spring Training, going 1-1 with an 8.10 ERA. But, during Monday’s 2-0 victory over the Marlins, one would have never thought that Soriano had a poor spring.
In fact, he looked like that guy who saved 42 games for the Yankees last year. He pitched one shutout inning, picked up two strikeouts and his first save as a member of the Nationals. After he struck out Giancarlo Stanton to end the game, Soriano untucked his jersey to indicate that the game was over and it waas time to go home.
“Obviously, Spring Training is overrated, but he certainly turned it up a notch and made nothing but quality pitches. He was outstanding,” manager Davey Johnson said about Soriano.
Teammate Tyler Clippard wasn’t surprised that Soriano produced after the regular season started.
“He was always a guy that shines when the lights came on,” Clippard said. “I think we all realize that. In Spring Training, he is a veteran guy. He knew what he needed to do to get ready and he was ready.”
Nationals closer Rafael Soriano arrived in camp Saturday morning and was greeted in the clubhouse by teammate Gio Gonzalez and general manager Mike Rizzo. Soriano would later get reacquainted with left-hander Will Ohman. The two played together when they were with the Braves in 2008.
Soriano had visa issues, but was able to obtain one Friday morning in the Dominican Republic. Pitchers and catchers were scheduled to report this past Wednesday. While waiting to get his visa, Soriano was still able to find time to work out. In fact, Soriano was working out at the beach when he received word that he able to obtain his passport.
“I’m so happy to be here. I wanted to be here a little bit early and be with my new team” Soriano said.
Soriano, who joins a bullpen that already includes Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, has a 2.78 career ERA in 11 seasons spent with the Mariners, Braves, Rays and Yankees. The Nats signed Soriano after their bullpen struggled during last year’s National League Division Series against the Cardinals, allowing 16 earned runs in five games.
Soriano felt he made a good decision by signing a two-year, 28 million contract with the Nationals. It marks the second time in his career that Soriano goes into a season as the closer. The last time he went into a season as the closer was in 2010 when he was with the Rays. That year, Soriano had his best season, saving 45 games with a 1.73 ERA.
“I think I made a good decision with my [agent] to come here,” Soriano said. “Everybody is young. We have a good team. I come here and see what happens the next two weeks. I want to be comfortable with everybody here and win this year.
“Now I’m given the opportunity to be the closer. I’m happy with that. I want to win. That’s all I’m here for.”
Soriano had one of his best seasons in 2012, posting a 2.26 ERA with 42 saves for the Yankees, taking over closer duties after Mariano Rivera tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in early May. Soriano opted out of his contract with New York after he learned that Rivera was going to come back for the 2013 season. Soriano did not want to be a setup man.