Soriano avoids division foes in spring

Soriano avoids division foes in spring

Soriano avoids division foes in spring
TAMPA, Fla. -- Rafael Soriano told the Yankees in January that he doesn't like to pitch against division rivals, so the right-hander had been surprised to see his name listed for Wednesday's game against the Orioles.

"I pitch different," Soriano said. "I don't like to pitch the same way I pitch in the regular season. It's not easy when you have to play 18 games against the same team. I don't like that."

Soriano reminded manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild of his unique program, something that he said he has followed with the Braves and Rays.

"I've been doing that the last four years," said Soriano, who led the American League with 45 saves last season. "It works for me, so I'm not going to change."

While the Yankees and other clubs periodically send starting pitchers to Minor League games so they can avoid division opponents or long bus rides, Girardi said he couldn't recall another reliever who subscribed to such an idea in Spring Training.

"I don't have a problem with it," Girardi said. "I think he's thinking ahead. He wants to hide his stuff as much as possible. ... If Mo [Mariano Rivera] came and told me the same thing, I'd probably say yes. I don't think that's catering to a guy. It's understanding his desires and what he wants to do and how he wants to get ready."

Rays manager Joe Maddon, who was in the visiting dugout for Thursday's game, said that he was aware of Soriano's program.

"Last year with Rafael, he and I had a conversation in January or December pretty much describing how he felt and how he liked to get ready," Maddon said. "I was good with it. I have no problem with anything like that. I think it's actually wise to do. I think sometimes you become overly controlling about things. The guy that's been around, I really want to listen to what he has to say. If he can describe to me intelligently what he wants to do, I'm in."

Girardi and Rothschild switched Soriano to throw instead in a Minor League game at the Yankees' Himes Avenue complex on Thursday afternoon, but the outing didn't go particularly well.

"I didn't feel really good [with] my command, especially my fastball and my slider," Soriano said. "I don't feel like I have everything down. I don't know why, but that's what I feel today."

Soriano said he threw 21 pitches in an inning of work against Yankees Minor Leaguers, issuing a walk and allowing a double.

"That doesn't count," Soriano said. "The only reason I like to go there is that I can throw my pitches and see how I feel."

In line as the setup man for the closer Rivera, Soriano said he expects to next pitch on Sunday against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla. He then plans to make appearances in back-to-back games on March 25 and 26 against the Astros and Pirates, respectively.