Soriano follows special work schedule
Closer to appear in just seven Spring Training games
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- A lot of Rays fans are probably wondering when they're going to see the team's most significant offseason addition, Rafael Soriano.
The Rays traded right-hander Jesse Chavez to the Braves for Soriano at the end of the Winter Meetings, then avoided arbitration with the right-hander by signing him to a one-year deal worth $7.5 million.
Soriano, 30, converted 27 out of 31 save opportunities in 2009, while posting a 1-6 mark with a 2.97 ERA in 77 games. Perhaps most impressive from the right-hander's 2009 resume were his 102 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings. Soriano has an 8-18 record with a 2.92 ERA and 43 saves in 278 career appearances with Seattle and Atlanta.
The Rays' new closer has been in uniform this spring, but he hasn't been on the mound during a game, which can be attributed to his work schedule. He knows what works for him, and Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon isn't about to upset the apple cart given Soriano's past success.
"Conversationally, I felt like he really does understand what he needs to do [to get ready for the season]," Maddon said. "I'm trusting him right now. And really, he's very upbeat. A late-inning guy like that, seven appearances should be good.
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"I've seen him work in the past. He's a high-effort guy and he's going to throw hard. And again, you do want to save it for the season. He's getting the benefit of the doubt right now. I believe him. He seemed to be well-thought out about how he wanted to get ready, so I was on board with it."
Soriano works hard during Spring Training, he just doesn't need a lot of appearances to get ready for the season. By the time the regular season rolls around, he will have made approximately seven one-inning appearances, so he'll leave camp with plenty of pitches left in his right arm.
"This works for me," said Soriano, explaining that this is the third consecutive year that he's been on this program. "I feel great. I'll be ready to go at the start of the season."
Soriano will throw a bullpen on Monday then will throw batting practice on Thursday and Sunday. He'll likely make his first appearance in a Spring Training game around the middle of next week.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.