Robinson pulls Soriano from game
Nationals manager upset about left fielder's lack of hustle
NEW YORK -- The Alfonso Soriano saga continued Wednesday night, as Nationals manager Frank Robinson's patience with the left fielder ran out against the Mets.
After Nick Johnson homered with one out in the top of the sixth inning, Soriano followed and swung at Brian Bannister's first pitch, popping up to catcher Paul Lo Duca. Soriano stood in the batter's box and never ran to first base, as LoDuca easily caught the ball in fair territory. Robinson was then seen waving his towel in disgust, and the manager immediately took Soriano out of the game and replaced him with Marlon Byrd.
Robinson said Soriano will not be fined or suspended, feeling the left fielder did not intentionally try to hurt the team. Soriano is expected to start against the Mets on Thursday night.
"It has been said more than one time -- [if] you don't run the balls out, you run the risk of being taken out of the ballgame," Robinson said. "Everybody has been put on notice in Spring Training. I thought he did not deserve to stay in the game."
Soriano said he didn't run to first base because he thought the ball was going to end up in foul territory. At the same time, Soriano wasn't surprised that Robinson took him out of the game because he was told by the skipper in the past to run the bases hard.
"He said in a meeting, when we don't run, he would get us out of the game, so I'm not surprised," Soriano said. "He not only talked to me, but to everybody."
Wednesday was not the first time Soriano was told to run the bases hard. On March 23 against the Astros at Space Coast Stadium, Soriano popped up to second baseman Eric Bruntlett. Before the catch was made, Soriano didn't run hard to first base. According to a person in the dugout, Robinson gently told Soriano to run the bases harder next time.
"Hey, everybody knows how Frank is," said right fielder Jose Guillen. "He doesn't ask you for much. He wants us to play hard, run the bases hard. If you don't do that, you know you are going to have a problem with him. I'm going to support every decision Frank makes on field. If Soriano has a problem with it, he has to go to him."
Soriano didn't have a good night from the start. In the second inning, he was hit by a pitch. The ball hit the earflap of his batting helmet and Soriano was dazed for a few minutes. Robinson and head athletic trainer Tim Abraham went to Soriano's aid, but he remained in the game. Soriano ended up going 0-for-2 in the contest.
"When you get hit in the head, you are a little scared, but after that, I felt like I could continue to play," Soriano said. "I feel OK. So I'm OK to play tomorrow. I'm fine."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.