Alfonso Soriano started his career as a second baseman for the New York Yankees and continued playing there with the Texas Rangers after the Alex Rodriguez mega deal. When he finally became a free agent, he made the switch to the outfield with the Washington Nationals, and then signed a lucrative long-term contract to man left field for the Chicago Cubs. At age 37, the Yankees re-acquired Soriano and kept him in the outfield where he did a fine job. Now, at age 38, Soriano is adjusting to yet another positional change: Designated Hitter.
As players age and their bodies begin to break down, the transition to DH seems inevitable. Keeping older players off the field in theory should keep them less at risk for injury, and of course prevent everyday stress off their bodies. For some though, it can be very difficult to adjust to. Players can get stiff, lose their rhythm, or think too much about their at-bats. In Soriano’s case, he felt the adjustment as he started off the season mired in an 0-for-16 slump. It was difficult for him to stay sharp between at-bats just sitting in the dugout and not taking the field. To help himself out, he developed a routine of cage work coupled with some stretching and riding the bike to stay loose. It seems to be helping as he is now batting .247 with four homers and 10 RBI.
When asked how he’s felt this season, Soriano told Brendan Kuty of NJ.com, “I feel 100%. Better than the last three or four years. If I continue feeling like that, I could play maybe two or three more years. I’m surprised how I feel.” Could it be the fact that he is now the Yankees primary DH? “It could be,” Soriano said. “Or maybe it could be that in the first couple of at-bats (of the season) you’re too anxious to do something. Either way, it’s like I said. I feel more comfortable every day batting DH.” If Soriano continues to see success in his new role, he may just be able to stick around for a couple more years.