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Yankees considering using Alfonso Soriano as back-up first baseman

Mar 8, 2014, 11:25 PM EDT

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Over his 15-year career, Yankees outfielder Alfonso Soriano has logged time at five of the eight non-pitcher positions on the diamond. The only three positions he hasn’t played are catcher, first base and right field. He might make it six this season. ESPN’s Andrew Marchand reports that manager Joe Girardi has kicked around the idea of using Soriano at first base to spell Mark Teixeira from time to time.

“We have kicked it around a little bit,” manager Joe Girardi said.

[...]

Soriano, who will play in the outfield Friday night, will primarily be a designated hitter. However, he could spell Mark Teixeira from time to time during the season. The Yankees do not plan to carry strictly a backup first baseman.

Kelly Johnson, the team’s starting third baseman, is listed as the back-up first and second baseman. Given that Johnson is neither two nor three people, the Yankees would like to diversify their portfolio, so to speak, which explains brainstorming Soriano at first.

At the age of 37 last season, Soriano blasted 34 home runs and posted a .791 OPS with the Cubs and the Yankees. He moved back to the Bronx in a trade at the end of July. Soriano’s contract expires at the end of the season and he’s been mulling retirement.

  1. tfbuckfutter - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:32 PM

    Am I the only one that never knew he played catcher?

    • tfbuckfutter - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:58 PM

      You’re welcome Bill.

      • Bill Baer - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:59 PM

        My bad, I am very good at counting.

      • tfbuckfutter - Mar 9, 2014 at 12:21 AM

        As a writer I am sure you can appreciate how carefully I worded that, as I drew attention to what I thought was your mistake, but at the same time if I were mistaken it just appears to be a legitimate comment.

  2. historiophiliac - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:34 PM

    They are bringing him in to pasture.

  3. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:39 PM

    They have already discussed using him in RF as well.

  4. bostonboresme - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:45 PM

    We already knew this….worth a midnight article?

    • doctorofsmuganomics - Mar 9, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      Speak for yourself. I didn’t know this, therefore disproving your “we” comment

  5. mentalotherhalf - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:57 PM

    1) Pretty sure he hasn’t logged any innings at catcher
    2) He’s currently slotted to split right field, left field, and DH for 2014. Carlos Beltran will be doing a lot of DHing for the Yankees in 2014.
    3) Soriano’s spring training was truncated by the flu thus far, but they’ve had him doing scooping drills at first, all the same. That’s a step beyond kicking it around a little bit.

  6. uyf1950 - Mar 9, 2014 at 8:37 AM

    As the saying goes “any port in a storm”. If Soriano can handle a back up as a 1st baseman go for it. The Yankees also appear to be giving Cranzler a decent shot at being the back up 1st baseman. So far this spring he’s gotten most of the reps at 1st base. The more the merrier. I have to say based on a very very limited sample size though Tex seems to be coming along nicely as he gets ready for the regular season.

    • spudchukar - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:20 AM

      This makes sense, but Soriano is a liability no matter where he plays, so don’t expect some miraculous transcendence into Wes Parker. As I have mentioned before, in order for the Yankees to maximize ABs for Soriano and the DH spot, he will be forced onto the field as much as the New York management can tolerate. It won’t be pretty, but it is a must, due to the numerous DHs that currently occupy positions.

      • uyf1950 - Mar 9, 2014 at 12:39 PM

        I doubt Soriano is the 1st option or even the 2nd option to back up 1st base. It never hurts to see what he is capable of “just in case”.. Have a good day.

      • spudchukar - Mar 9, 2014 at 12:49 PM

        UYF, my friend, uh yeah, that goes without saying. The more important issue is that New York would benefit greatly from a rule change that would allow for each team to employ 2 DHs.

      • anxovies - Mar 9, 2014 at 2:22 PM

        Actually, over the years he has turned himself into a competent left fielder. According to some of the Chicago observers (Harrelson, for one) he’s worked hard on his defense the last few years.

      • spudchukar - Mar 9, 2014 at 3:30 PM

        Improvement does not = competent.

      • gloccamorra - Mar 9, 2014 at 3:04 PM

        In addition to making himself into a fairly decent left fielder, he wasn’t anywhere near as bad at second base his first time around with the Yankees. The sabermetricians thought he was terrible, and he did make a bunch of errors as a kid, but he could probably hold down second, third, or even shortstop for a few games. At this stage of his career, he’s still got an everyday bat, and having him play the entire infield a few games at a time keeps that bat in the line up and gives Girardi a lot of options. If he’s scooping throws at first, he’s also practicing for the other infield spots.

      • spudchukar - Mar 9, 2014 at 3:33 PM

        I would pay big bucks to watch Soriano play anywhere on the infield, and break the bank to watch him play SS. Keystone Kops, Laurel and Hardy, Berman’s “stumbling, bumbling, and fumbling” come to mind at the suggestion.

      • Reflex - Mar 9, 2014 at 4:31 PM

        Um, Soriano was never anything even approaching a decent LF, 2B or anything else. His career dWAR is -10.5, his years with the Yankees as a 2B were responsible for -5 of that. As a LF he has accumulated another -5.5 dWAR.

        He has never even put up a league average dWAR, and for only 3 of his 15 seasons has he had a dWAR thats even a positive number.

        As for his bat, much like Raul Ibanez the high home runs obscure the fact that his overall production has been very low. He has been around league average only 3 of the past 6 seasons, and in none of them significantly above.

        I maintain that if Soriano is an everyday player for the Yanks, they are in serious trouble. And its even worse if he plays a position, any position.

      • uyf1950 - Mar 9, 2014 at 9:27 PM

        @ Reflex , there has been NO indication from the Yankees that Soriano will be an “everyday player” this coming year. All signs point to the fact that Soriano is destined to get most of his playing time as the DH. Considering that in 2013 between the Cubs and Yankees Soriano combined for 34 HR’s and 101 RBI’s I think he’s well worth the $4MM AAV the Yankees will be charged by MLB for the 2014 season and that he can and will contribute in a positive way to the Yankees season.

  7. sdelmonte - Mar 9, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    Clearly, infield defense and run prevention is not a high priority right now. Better be a lot of strikeouts and fly ball outs.

    • Kevin S. - Mar 9, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      Because of who they’re looking at as an emergency first baseman?

      • sdelmonte - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:00 AM

        Because no one in that infield inspires me with much confidence.

    • lukedunphysscienceproject - Mar 9, 2014 at 12:27 PM

      That’ll be a change, because it was always such a priority for the Yankees in the past.

  8. hbk72777 - Mar 9, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    Hey, they turned Sheffield into a 1st baseman . They even let an old Jorge play 2nd a few years ago.

    • genericcommenter - Mar 9, 2014 at 3:58 PM

      Vernon Wells played 2nd and 3rd!

  9. cackalackyank - Mar 9, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    Oh well.

  10. mattlion - Mar 9, 2014 at 10:54 PM

    Soriano in the lineup every day isn’t a problem. Soriano hitting higher than 7th in the lineup is. He’s a low contact, cripple hitter at this point in his career.

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