Rafael Soriano has been strictly non-save mode so far this spring.
There's no bending over at the hips and shooting an intimidation stare towards home before going into his delivery. No untucking the jersey emphatically when he's done.
Of course, he's pitching odd innings here and there wherever Matt Williams can find opportunities for the 34-year-old Washington Nationals' closer to get his work in, early in games so the competition is a little bit stronger than what you'd get late in a Grapefruit League matchup.
Soriano is slowly building up arm strength in Spring Training as he prepares for his second season in the nation's capital. As he does, however, he's getting knocked around a bit.
After signing a 2-year/$28M free agent deal last winter, Soriano saved 43 games for the Nationals in 2013, posting a 3.11 ERA, a 3.65 FIP, 17 walks (2.30 BB/9) and 51 Ks (6.89 K/9) in 66 2/3 IP over which he gave up seven home runs (0.95 HR/9) and finished at +0.5 fWAR. In his first two appearances and 1 2/3 IP this spring, the veteran of 12 major league seasons has given up eight hits and seven runs, all earned.
FBB's Recommended Reading:
In Monday's outing against the Astros, Soriano surrendered five hits and five runs in 2/3 of an inning before he was lifted from the game. His new manager said this week that he wasn't concerned with the results with Soriano.
"He's good," Williams assured reporters who wondered what was going on with the reliever. "He's normal rotation. We'll get him back out there in a couple days and go again. He's good though."
"I think right now anyway, I don't think he's trying to save himself," Williams said. "I think he's working on his pitches. He talked with [pitching coach Steve McCatty] a little bit last night about his release point and didn't feel like it was exactly where he wanted it to be but, he's a veteran guy. He's a pro. He knows what he's doing. Didn't work out last night, but it's okay, he'll go again."
Mattheus Update: Ryan Mattheus, the Nats' 30-year-old reliever has been dealing with "costochondritis" this spring, an inflammation of the cartilage connecting the ribs. Williams told reporters on Tuesday that the right-hander was back throwing again now that the discomfort has lessened.
"Ryan Mattheus threw yesterday," the manager said. "He'll throw again today. Stretch him out. Flat ground and continuing to stretch him out."
Talking Manny Delcarmen:
Manny Delcarmen has been out of the majors since 2010, but the 32-year-old veteran of six MLB seasons has been throwing hard and having success early this spring after signing a minor league deal with the Nationals this past winter. Delcarmen has thrown four scoreless innings so far, striking out five and allowing just two hits.
Matt Williams has been impressed and said earlier this week that he liked that he could put the veteran in any situation.
"His velocity is really good and he's come in... he's used to coming in late in games so it doesn't bother him," Williams explained. "He understands that part of it and has been pounding the zone and going after guys, so I like what we've seen so far."