Through two appearances this spring, Rafael Soriano has allowed seven runs on eight hits. He allowed five runs on five hits and hit a batter Monday night against the Houston Astros, his second outing of the spring. His fastball sat between 89 and 91 miles per hour, according to one scout’s radar gun, just a tick under his 2013 average.
Nationals Manager Matt Williams said after Monday’s game, and reiterated Tuesday morning, that he is not concerned about Soriano’s results; his only concern in spring training is how the closer feels. And Soriano told him he feels good. Soriano, too, insisted he is not worried about the results at this point.
“This was my second outing, so I’m not worried about the rest,” Soriano said in Spanish. “This is [spring] training. Training is for you to prepare yourself and to work on things. The results don’t matter. … All of us are getting ready. From our legs to our arms, everything, we’re trying to get up to speed. That’s why we have these games.”
Soriano, 34, said he felt his control was fine. He said the feel for his slider and cutter are improving but felt good. He also said that he, like others, pitches slightly differently in the spring when facing teams the Nationals will face during the season. The Nationals play the Astros from April 29-30 and host them in Washington from June 17-18.
“He’s working on his pitches,” Williams said Tuesday morning. “He talked with [pitching coach Steve McCatty] a little bit about his release point. He didn’t feel like it was exactly where he wanted it to be. He’s a veteran guy. He’s a pro. He knows what he’s doing.”
Soriano also normally has a different spring schedule than most because the 12-year veteran wants to keep his arm fresh for the season. He normally begins appearing in spring games later than other pitchers, although he said he began doing that earlier this spring under Williams. Soriano is slated to make eight to nine appearances this spring. Williams, too, has wanted to limit the work of late-inning relievers to keep them fresh for the regular season, which begins March 31.
“I’m worried about feeling good mentally and physically,” Soriano said. “People started to talk about how they’re worried about me. Don’t worry about me. Worry on the 31st. From the 31st on, worry about me. Right now, don’t. This doesn’t matter. This is about preparation. That’s what I’m doing.”