From 1999-2003, Alfonso Soriano was the second baseman of the future for the New York Yankees. He coupled power and speed with the excitement that is necessary to take a fanbase by storm. Soriano became a fan favorite faster than he could run from first to second.
Soriano has been almost exclusively an outfielder since he left the Texas Rangers after the 2005 season. While his defense has always been cause for concern (he made 44 errors in two seasons with the Rangers), his outfield defense was arguably worse.
He was terrible at reading balls off the bat, didn't get good jumps and his arm was nothing to write home about. He's still not all that great at doing all of those things, but his transition back to the Yankees seems to have brought a new life to every aspect of his game.
We all know about how he's hitting the cover off the ball. In 25 games he's hitting .276/.324/.571 (all at least .20-point improvements from his numbers with the Chicago Cubs) with nine home runs and 28 RBI. He's even racked up three steals.
These numbers are similar to the type of player he was back in his first go-around with the Yankees, and manager Joe Girardi may have plans to make his second tenure in the Bronx even more similar.
With Jayson Nix going on the disabled list with a fractured hand (that will likely end his season), Girardi alluded to Soriano seeing emergency time at second base, reports River Avenue Blues. As a result, Robinson Cano will see time at shortstop in emergencies.
What defines an "emergency" situation remains to be seen, but know Girardi is not afraid to have players play a little out of position. Russell Martin played third base at times in 2012; Francisco Cervelli has played second and third base in his time with the Yankees; Vernon Wells played first, second and third this season as well.
Girardi is not afraid to put the best guys on the field to fit his team's needs, regardless of past experiences. He trusts his players, and that seems to have worked well enough to get his rag-tag group to within striking distance of the playoffs.
Prior to the start of Friday's three-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees are just 5.0 games back of their division foe for the top wild-card spot. This puts them 3.5 games behind the Cleveland Indians for the second spot.
If last season proved anything, it's that anything can happen in a one-game set. At the very least, look for the Yankees to sneak in any way they can.
Soriano hasn't played second base since 2009 with the Cubs (when he only played two games there), but look for his versatility and powerful bat to be useful to Girardi down the stretch. Some have already begun to call him the savior of the 2013 season in New York, and they may be right if the Yankees can clinch a playoff berth.