Soriano, Nats still at impasse over move to outfield
A two-hour meeting with team officials Thursday failed to produce a breakthrough, and the parties essentially agreed to put off the problem.
"We've been pretty clear about being unclear," general manager Jim Bowden said.
Soriano will be allowed to work out at second base with the Nationals for the first few days of spring training because that is the position he will play for the Dominican Republic. Soriano reports to the Dominican team March 3 and could return as late as March 21.
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "Is he going to play left field? Who knows? Those decisions will be made before we leave Florida."
The Nationals acquired Soriano, a four-time All-Star second baseman, from Texas in a December trade that sent outfielders Brad Wilkerson and Terrmel Sledge and pitcher Armando Galarraga to the Rangers. With three-time All-Star Jose Vidro already on the roster, Washington made it clear that Vidro will not be moved and that Soriano would be asked to play left field. Soriano made it clear that he wasn't happy about it.
Thursday's reporting date was the first chance for Soriano, his agent, Robinson and Bowden to sit down. The team had limited contact with Soriano in the offseason because he was going through arbitration -- the panel chose the team's $10 million offer over his $12 million request.
"We know more about Alfonso now than we did before," Robinson said. "We understand where he's coming from. We've got some things to think about, and he has some things to think about. We'll get it done."
How they plan to get it done isn't clear. Robinson said both Vidro and Soriano are "tradable commodities" and used the word "if" when talking about Soriano playing in D.C.
"I'd like to keep them both," Bowden said, "because when we have them both, we're a much better team."
If told by Robinson to play left field, would Soriano respect the manager's wishes?
"Who knows?" Soriano said.
There was much discussion in the news conference about great players who have switched positions -- Pete Rose, Rod Carew, Robinson. Did that make Soriano more amenable to a move?
"That opened my mind," he said.
Robinson again dismissed the notion of moving Vidro to another position. Vidro has been bothered by knee problems for 2½ seasons, but he reported to camp Thursday and said he "100 percent" and ready to play a full season. He announced he would not play for Puerto Rico in the WBC in order to focus on the Nationals.
"I'm a second baseman -- where should I play?" Vidro said. "What's going on here is not my problem. It's not his problem. It's the team's problem."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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