© 2006 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
09/11/06 11:00 PM ET
Notes: Robinson touts Soriano for MVP
Manager says slugger's season should not be overlooked
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Nationals manager Frank Robinson not only wants Alfonso Soriano to reach 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases, the skipper wants to see Soriano reach 100 RBIs, 40 doubles, get his 20th outfield assist of the season -- which he accomplished on Monday -- and receive some National League Most Valuable Player votes. Entering Monday's action, Soriano had 91 RBIs, 38 doubles and 19 outfield assists. If Soriano reaches his offensive numbers, Robinson said it should be considered one of the best individual seasons of all time. Robinson believes Soriano is being ignored because the Nationals are not playing well. "We kind of focused on the home runs, but we haven't focused on the rest of his game until recently with the stolen bases," Robinson said. "Even with the year this team is having, he should get some [MVP] votes. He'll probably get five or six third-place votes. The only negative about Soriano's game this year is the 140 strikeouts, but Robinson said he would not ask him to cut down on the whiffs, believing that Soriano would be a different hitter. Robinson compared Soriano's approach at the plate to the late Bobby Bonds, who was also a leadoff hitter and was known to strike out often. "He's an attacker. He sometimes looks bad, but it doesn't affect his approach," Robinson said. "That's the way Bobby Bonds was. They are almost similar-type players. They didn't miss the fastball, and they looked terrible on offspeed pitches and breaking balls." Of all the things he has accomplished this year, Soriano said he is most proud of what he has accomplished in the outfield. "I didn't know if I had the talent to [to play the outfield], but I did it. ... I work hard before the game -- in batting practice. That's what helped me a lot. I go out there and try to make myself better," Soriano said. Asked if he could play center field, Soriano said, "I don't know. It's different. A lot of people said that it's easier for me if I have everything up front, but I have to run both sides." More Soriano: Five years ago this November, Soriano hit what looked to be the game-winning home run to helped the Yankees defeat the Diamondbacks at Chase Field and win their fifth championship in six years. But the Diamondbacks came back in the bottom of the ninth inning against closer Mariano Rivera and defeated New York, 3-2, to win their first World Series title. "I hit the home run in the eighth inning, and Mariano coming in. I said the game was over because of Mariano. Everybody knows Mariano," Soriano said. This and that: Austin Kearns is still nursing a tight right groin, but he was able to go against the Diamondbacks on Monday. ... With the day off on Thursday, left-hander Mike O'Connor will be skipped and work out of the bullpen. Right-hander Ramon Ortiz will get the start against the Brewers on Friday night. Assistant general manager Bob Boone said that Zechry Zinicola will not pitch in the Arizona Fall League after all, because Zinicola has pitched a lot innings between college and the Minor Leagues. He is expected to be ready for Spring Training. The Nationals believe that Zinicola will be a major player in the bullpen as early as next year. Be a part of the mailbag: The Nationals mailbag runs on Monday. Send in your questions now. Stat of the day:The Nationals pitchers have given up 10 or more runs in a game 19 times this season. Did you know? Nick Johnson is one of five Nationals/Expos players -- Ken Singleton, Rusty Staub, Brad Wilkerson and Bob Bailey are the others -- to record 100 walks in a season. Coming up: The Nationals play the second game of a three-game series against the Diamondbacks at 9:40 ET on Tuesday evening at Chase Field. Right-hander Jason Bergmann will take the mound for Washington, while right-hander Miguel Batista goes to the hill for Arizona.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.