Soriano hopes for clean slate with Yanks

Soriano hopes for clean slate with Yanks

Soriano hopes for clean slate with Yanks
CHICAGO -- Rafael Soriano's stint with the Yankees began with general manager Brian Cashman admitting he was against spending $35 million on a setup man. The right-hander proceeded to falter with a 5.40 ERA in his first month and a half and was hindered by right elbow inflammation that put him on the disabled list for about 10 weeks.

Now, Soriano's Yankees tenure involves a lot of sitting -- and waiting.

With the eighth-inning role no longer his, Soriano has pitched in only one game since being activated on Friday. To put it another way, the man brought in to be the Yankees' biggest bullpen piece besides Mariano Rivera entered August with only 17 appearances and doesn't really have a role out of manager Joe Girardi's bullpen.

Speaking before Tuesday night's game against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, Soriano said he's learned to be OK with how this season has gone. He now has more patience, is taking things in stride and isn't bothered by the fact that he isn't currently pitching in the role for which he was signed.

In fact, Soriano never expected Girardi to remove Dave Robertson as his setup man.

"I never thought they were going to give me the eighth inning, because this kid has been pitching so well and it'd be a shame for the manager to take a kid out who has been pitching so well all year and just put me in there," Soriano said in Spanish. "I don't feel like I've lost my spot. I just feel like I was out of action for two months, and somebody had to take that spot. To me, whatever inning I can pitch in to help this team, that's where I'll be. I'm not going to feel bad, and I don't feel bad, because he's doing his job."

It'd be hard to adjust the role of Robertson, who entered Tuesday with a stellar 1.49 ERA. But the Yankees have also made a long-term commitment to Soriano and have to eventually see if he's fit to carry on that role as a member of the Yankees.

Soriano may have pitched only one inning since being activated -- he threw a scoreless frame in a blowout win over the Orioles on Saturday -- and he gave up four runs in 4 1/3 Minor League rehab innings before that, but the right-hander says his arm feels better than he expected.

"A lot better, thankfully," Soriano said. "I didn't think it was going to feel this way this fast, but thank God I was able to recover a lot quicker from where I was. Now, I'm feeling a lot better."

Girardi said pregame that he'd ideally like to get Soriano in on Tuesday night. For now, he'll continue to put the 31-year-old right-hander in less stressful situations to get him back in shape.

And Soriano will have to prove himself to gain his trust in big spots again.

A sign of lacking trust from the higher-ups may have been on display before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, as the Yankees were reportedly looking into acquiring the Padres' Heath Bell to their bullpen before balking at the cost.

As for Soriano, he has the option of opting out of his three-year contract and taking a $1.5 million buyout after this season and next season, if he so chooses. Contrary to popular perception, Soriano says he feels comfortable as a member of the Yankees and would lean toward staying.

"At the moment, yes, that's what I have planned, that I'm going to stay this year coming up and the other one," Soriano said. "That all depends on if they don't want to, or if they want to trade me, or anything like that. That would be their choice."

And until that happens, all Soriano can do is wait.

He has plenty of practice.

"I'm just waiting," Soriano said. "I'm waiting for when they give me the opportunity, to know that everything is fine. I know it'll be there."