Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Alfonso, you sound like the T.O. of MLB

Alfonso Soriano was suppose to make his spring training debut Monday night, after playing in the World Baseball Classic. However, after being penciled into the outfield, Soriano refused to take the field.

Soriano was acquired by the Washington Nationals in the offseason from the Texas Rangers. Jim Bowden, the general manager of the Nationals, said that Soriano will go on the disqualified list if he doesn't agree to switch positions

"The player refused to take the field, which we believe is a violation of his contract," Bowden said.

If you don't know much about Soriano, he is a four-time All-Star second baseman, and was listed in this game as leadoff batter and playing left field on a lineup sheet posted in the Nationals' clubhouse before Monday night's 11-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Before the trade took place, Soriano had made it public that he didn't want to play at any other position but second base. The Nationals already have an All-Star second baseman in Jose Vidro, so they told Soriano they want him to move to the outfield, and he indicated he doesn't want to do that. But, this was the first true objection that Soriano has shown since his return from playing with the Dominican team in the WBC.

"We told him if we get to Thursday, and he refuses to play left field, we told him at that point we will request that the commissioner's office place him on the disqualified list, at that time -- no pay, no service time," Bowden said.

"If he refuses to play and goes home, and the commissioner's office accepts our request to place him on the disqualified list, then at that point, if he were to sit out this year, he would not be a free agent, he would stay our property because his service time would stay the same."

If Soriano does show up for the game Wednesday, manager Frank Robinson said he would be willing to forgive him.

"It will be water under the bridge as far as I'm concerned," the manager said.

Apparently, manager Frank Robinson had a meeting 20 minutes prior to the game to explain the teams position and that he was going to play left-field. He was penciled in at that time, though Alfonso had made his position clear.

Bowden expressed that he wants Soriano to play left-field and hopes that the situation can be resolved, but also indicated that he would be fielding offers for Soriano but--"we're not going to give the player away. If we can make a deal that makes sense, we will."

Soriano is due to be paid $10 million this season.

Soriano batted .268 last season with 104 RBI, 36 HR, and 30 stolen bases. However, he also had 125 strike-outs and only drew 33 walks on the season as a lead-off hitter. He had 21 errors on the season and a fielding percentage of .972 (compared to Jose Vidro 5 errors, .985 fielding percentage).

Videos commentary by ESPN

Update: Soriano took the field Wednesday (the next game after he refused to take the field), so that may be the end of this drama.

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