It’s been a tough season for Alfonso Soriano. Hell, it’s been a tough season across the board for the New York Yankees with the bats, period. What was a season-beginning cold spell, has turned into a season-long slump for the lineup, with first baseman Mark Teixeira being the only real power source in the lineup. The one player who has been most disappointing? Arguably outfielder/DH Alfonso Soriano.
Soriano rode back into the Bronx and became a virtual Yankees’ legend overnight, by clubbing 17 bombs and posting a slugging percentage of .525 in only 58 games in pinstripes. What made the deal even more sweet for the Yankees, was that Soriano’s previous employer, the Chicago Cubs, were and still are paying most of Soriano’s salary.
However, after struggling to hit right-handed pitching, Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi made the decision to go with a straight platoon in right field, one that includes Soriano and the aging Ichiro Suzuki. For Soriano, the adjustment has been less than easy:
“Now that I don’t play everyday, it’s a little more difficult because since I don’t have the same timing I would have playing everyday…And there’s a little more pressure because sometimes I go two, three, four games without playing. It’s not the same as playing four games in a row and not playing one day. It’s a little more difficult, but I’m trying to make the adjustments to get the job done when I get the opportunity.”
Here’s the thing. Soriano has ALWAYS been a streaky hitter. Need reminding? Look back at Soriano’s 2003 post-season. There is a reason he was dealt that off-season to Texas for Alex Rodriguez. Soriano has always been a free-swinger, one that needs consistent at-bats to get going. The Yankees have seen what he can do when he’s on fire. Now, they have to live with what he also does when he’s not.
Alfonso Soriano is the equivalent of a three-point specialist in the NBA. The only way to get out of the slump, is to keep shooting, and eventually, he’ll heat back up. Girardi has no issue running Brian Roberts, Kelly Johnson, Yangervis Solarte, or anyone else that is failing to deliver out there everyday to work their way out of it. If Soriano is going to heat back up and be the right-handed, impact bat the Yankees traded for last summer, he simply needs ABs, no matter what. Soriano believes he can still contribute every day, and with free agency on the horizon this coming off-season, he needs those precious at-bats to showcase his ability to continue to hit:
“Yes, of course I feel like I can play everyday…The most important thing is the ability with my hands is there. The most important things are health and the hands. I feel like my bat is there, too. That’s the most important thing for a player to play everyday. So I’m just trying to take it day-by-day and when my opportunity to play everyday comes, if it comes, I’ll be ready.”
If the Yankees remain in the hunt for the AL East crown or a Wild Card berth, getting Soriano going has to be one of Joe Girardi’s top priorities. The odds of getting an impact bat AND a starting pitcher at the non-waiver trade deadline, is slim and none, not with the thin top-end of the minor league system the Yankees currently possess.