Rafael Soriano identified what he believed was the culprit for his high-wire save Wednesday night: too much rest.
After he allowed a homer and stranded two runners in scoring position to close out a 3-2 victory, Soriano said Thursday afternoon he hopes not to receive three consecutive days off again, as he did before his 27th save.
“It’s not easy,” Soriano said. “Last year I be more in the game. Save situations aren’t happening like they did last year or the year before. It’s not easy for me. Yesterday, I told [pitching coach] Steve McCatty I wanted to pitch in the game no matter what happened. If I have too many days off between when I pitch, I’m not the same guy. Every two days or three days, I got to be in the game.”
Soriano probably should have made the National League all-star team for his gaudy first-half performance. But in 10 appearances since the all-star break, Soriano has recalled his heart-thumping manner from last season. He has blown two saves, opponents have hit .316 against him and he’s giving up line drives at a 33 percent clip.
Soriano said he has spoken with McCatty about receiving more regular work. In four weeks since the break, Soriano has twice gone at least three days between appearances and has pitched back-to-back only once.
“If I don’t pitch tonight and I don’t get in the game tomorrow, by Saturday I want to be in the game,” Soriano said. “I’m going to talk to McCatty about that.”
“It’s not an excuse,” he added. “If I don’t pitch for four or five days and I don’t do my job, it’s not an excuse.”
With a closer who wants work, Manager Matt Williams finds himself in a difficult spot. He doesn’t want to wear down Soriano simply to keep him fresh and then turn to a tired closer with a game on the line.
“If you’re going to an off day, it’s a little easier,” Williams said. “We just don’t know. Last night was a situation where he was going to be in the game regardless. Up seven, down seven, he need to pitch. That’s the life of a closer sometimes. Sometimes you have games where the closer doesn’t get in there. You don’t want to pitch him just to pitch him, because you might have a tighter one the next day. That’s a hard balance to strike sometimes.”
Without prompting, Soriano made clear his request for more action had no relation to a pertinent clause in his closet. If Soriano finishes 120 games between 2013 and 2014 combined, his $15 million option for 2015 will vest. Soriano finished 58 last year and has 38 games finished this year, putting him on pace for 52, well short of the mark.
“For the games for next year, I don’t think about that [stuff],” Soriano said. “We’re ready this year. I want to finish good and help the team make the playoffs. I don’t look for that. I don’t know how many games I have.”
In the overwhelmingly likely event Soriano does not hit the 120-games finished mark, he will become a free agent. Soriano said he has not even considered his options.
“That’ll be my lawyer and the owner,” Soriano said. “I do my job, and he’s got to do his job. We’ll see what happens. Right now, I’m focused on taking the team to the playoffs and winning.”
Soriano’s “lawyer” is high-profile agent Scott Boras. Last week, Soriano said, Boras came to Soriano’s house in the D.C. area and ate lunch with him. But they didn’t even discuss his pending free agency.
“I don’t like to talk about that,” Soriano said. “After the season, I’ll go home, he’ll call me and he’ll tell me what’s going on. That’s it. A lot of people like to say, ‘I want an extension. I want a deal.’ I don’t like that. I want to focus on this year, and that’s it.”