03.27.06

Soriano’s Struggles In Left Field

Posted in Baseball at 7:21 am by

Washington’s Alfonoso Soriano — described earlier this week by Charley Steiner as “the Butcher Of 2nd Base” — has yet to turn himself into a Gold Glove candidate in left field. This, after all of 4 days playing the position. From the Washington Post’s Barry Svrulga.

Alfonso Soriano, the Washington Nationals’ left fielder, had a line drive sail over him in the top of the first inning Sunday, then hit the first pitch he saw well over the left field fence in the bottom of the inning, a preview of the give and take he might provide all season. Yet he provided the performance against an uneasy backdrop, for some members of the organization don’t think he’s working hard enough to improve in the outfield.

On a cool, breezy Sunday morning, Soriano took some fly balls off the fungo bat of special assistant Jose Cardenal, then took batting practice, then slipped inside the clubhouse. Cardenal, though, feels he should stay on the field to shag flies so he can better learn to read balls coming off the bat.

“I cannot force him to do anything that he don’t want to do,” Cardenal said. “It’s up to him. I only can tell him, ‘Just go and do this, do that, for your own good. Then you can become a better outfielder.’ But if you don’t want to do it, I can’t put a rifle to him and say, ‘Do it.’ Sometimes, you have to know how hungry you are.”

The point was emphasized in the first inning of what became a 13-6 victory over the Houston Astros. Lance Berkman sent a line drive to left that Soriano tracked poorly. He eventually leaped, but the ball sailed over him and turned into a run-scoring double.

“I see the contact,” Soriano said. “But after awhile, when the ball left the infield, I lost it a little bit.”

It is instances like that that make Cardenal, who was a major league outfielder for 18 seasons, believe that every opportunity to work is important.

“I can give him 1,000 fungoes, and it’s not going to be the same,” Cardenal said. “Fungoes are only to loosen you up. He needs to see the way the ball comes off the bat during the game. Get the angles, see fly balls and grounders.”

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