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Archive for Monday, February 23, 2004

Soriano joins Texas with role undetermined

February 23, 2004

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— Alfonso Soriano put on a Texas Rangers uniform Sunday and worked out with his new teammates for the first time.

The All-Star took batting practice and played long toss with third baseman Herbert Perry and outfielder Kevin Mench.

"Let me see your knuckleball," Mench said, but Soriano just shook his head, smiled and kept throwing.

"Let the man work on what he needs to do," Perry shot back good-naturedly. "I don't know what it is today. He can throw the ball straight. I can throw the ball straight. But you keep throwing them crooked."

"It's the ball," Mench said.

Even Soriano, traded from the New York Yankees for Alex Rodriguez, had a good laugh.

Soriano might be shifted from second base to shortstop. The Rangers already have a .300 hitter at second in leadoff man Michael Young. Soriano came up through the minor leagues a shortstop, but he was moved to second because the Yankees already had All-Star shortstop Derek Jeter.

Manager Buck Showalter and GM John Hart said no decision had been made yet about which position Soriano would play.

The multitalented Soriano hit .290 with 38 home runs, 91 RBIs and 35 steals for the Yankees last season, but he struggled in the postseason. In 2002, he hit .300 with 39 home runs, 102 RBIs and 41 steals.

Soriano said he would feel more comfortable staying at second base, but would keep an open mind about a switch.

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Texas reliever Doug Brocail, a non-roster invitee, almost didn't make it to spring training.

"I was all ready to drive to Florida when a friend reminded me the Rangers were in Arizona now," he said.

The Rangers moved to Surprise last year after spending more than four decades in Florida -- including 17 years in Port Charlotte.

"I can just see me arriving in Florida and finding no one there," Brocail said. "What would my new teammates have thought of me?"

Notes: LHP Kenny Rogers, expected to be sidelined for a few more days with a sore right hamstring, was in the clubhouse doing exercises. ... RHP Chan Ho Park will rely on a secret weapon to try to stay healthy this season -- his brother, Hun Yong Park. The younger Park recently was licensed as a doctor of acupuncture. "He's really helped me a lot," said Chan Ho, who was sidelined most of the second half of last season with a back strain. "I feel more comfortable now."

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