Soriano Says He Wants to Stay In D.C.

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 6, 2006

With half a season under his belt and the trade deadline less than three weeks away, Alfonso Soriano has a new take on his stint with the Washington Nationals: He wants to stay.

"I feel very good here, better than I expected," Soriano said in an interview yesterday. "I feel much better. I don't want to leave. I want to stay here and build something from this group that we have here. I think it's a very nice group. I feel more comfortable. I don't want to go to another place."

Soriano's statements came three days after he was voted to the National League all-star team as an outfielder by both the players and the fans. That was a significant development in his adjustment from second base, where he played since he came to the majors in 1999.

"Now, I'm on the all-star team, and that makes me feel like I can play the position," Soriano said.

When the Nationals were in the process of persuading Soriano to switch to left field in spring training, they made him a five-year, $50 million offer to stay in Washington. Soriano declined, at least in part because he was unsure he could play the outfield -- or if he wanted to.

Now, he understands that he might be dealt before the July 31 trade deadline. But he said that even if the Nationals held onto him, he would give the club every opportunity to re-sign him when he became a free agent at season's end.

"If they don't do nothing now, in three months, they would be the first team that I want to come to because I feel comfortable here," Soriano said. "We have a young team. You have a new owner. In two years, we have a new stadium here. There's a lot of good things happening here. I hope they think about this."

Incoming Nationals president Stan Kasten is set to rebuild largely through trades and the minor leagues. Neither Kasten nor General Manager Jim Bowden responded to inquiries about Soriano's comments last night.

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