Rafael Soriano has a reputation of keeping to himself and staying quiet. That perception is, however, only half true. He does retreat to his corner of the clubhouse often, but in his brief time with the Nationals, he has already opened up to his teammates. On Sunday night, his behind-the-scenes actions belied that public persona of a removed teammate.
Soriano, 33, extended an invitation to the entire team to eat at his home in Atlanta. Soriano played for the Braves from 2007 to 2009 and still owns a house there. (He spends his offseason in his native Dominican Republic.) When he first bought the house while with the Braves, he invited the team over for dinner. When with the New York Yankees last season, he did the same when they played Atlanta.
“It’s a team,” he said. “I do it so we can share. We had a good time.” And, he said, “you get back and you’re eating the same stuff in the hotel.”
After the Nationals arrived from Washington around 9 p.m., about 10 players ate and hung out at Soriano’s house. Someone who works for him cooked a Latin-style feast of chicken, churrasco (grilled meat), rice and beans and more. Teammates played pool and shot the basketball around, he said. Gio Gonzalez, Denard Span, Tyler Clippard, Dan Haren, Ian Desmond, Chad Tracy, Ryan Mattheus and Drew Storen were among the teammates who came to eat, Soriano said. It was more proof to teammates that Soriano isn’t a loner.
“That’s just the outsider’s perspective,” Ryan Mattheus said. “When he first got here, we all kinda heard that and all suspected that. The more he’s warmed up, he’s very vocal. But he picks his spots. He helps us out a ton in the bullpen. And then just last night, there was laughing and singing. He’s a great teammate. Unbelievable. He does have kind of a quiet side to him. Very about his business. Very professional. He’s definitely opened up to us a bunch.”
“He is like that,” Span added. “That was surprising to me, that he invited everybody over. It was open to whoever wanted to come. I’ve seen him be to himself but he has his moments where he’s around, talking trash and joking.