Alfonso Soriano plays left field for the moribund Chicago Cubs. He is batting .267, with 10 home runs, 34 RBIs, and has stolen foures bases. In 2009, he hit .241.
At the age of 34, it is safe to say that Mr. Soriano will not have the career Derek Jeter predicted for him.
In 2001, Soriano hit the home run off Curt Schilling that was supposed to bring the New York Yankees' fans their fourth consecutive World Championship. It would have been the third time sports greatest dynasty accomplished the feat, but it never happened.
Mariano Rivera didn't protect a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Arizona Diamondbacks gave the Yankees the worst defeat in the team's history.
Yes, it was worse than the Boston Red Sox four game sweep in the 2004 playoffs, because the World Series is not the playoffs.
Derek Jeter was concerned about Soriano. During spring training, 2002, Jeter pulled his teammate aside for a conference. When it was over, Jeter spoke.
"I could tell he was really paying attention and listening. He knew what I was trying to tell him."
Jeter knew that in his second season, Soriano would face many challenges.
Jeter warned Soriano about the adjustments pitchers would make, and what expectations the media, fans, and the Yankees would have for him.
Jeter had been through it all. His approach was simple.
"The whole point was just to continue to have fun. That's the only way to be successful. Continue to have fun and relax."
Soriano had a great April, hitting .364 and leading the league in hits, total bases, extra base hits and doubles.
"I know the pitchers know me, and I go out with more concentration in the game," Soriano said. "I remember what Jeter told me. Now a lot of people know me, the managers and the players. I think about that all the time and work hard everyday. I wait for my pitch in my zone, and that's it"
It seems that in the 2003 World Series, the Florida Marlins' pitchers made Sori appear to have a short memory.
The Yankees' sagacious general manager Brian Cashman, a wise judge of talent who has brought the team players such as Javier Vazquez twice, Felix Rodriguez and Raul Mondesi, compared Soriano to Jeter at similar points in their careers.
"Jeter's game was more refined and consistent, but he had two times as much experience. Jeter has power potential," Cashman said. "Jeter has the ability to control the running game. Jeter has the ability to play excellent defense.
"But Alfonso has the explosive power, explosive speed. Derek is the typical five-tool player. I just think Sori's tools are better. His ceiling might be a little higher than Derek's in terms of raw ability."
Soriano played second base for the 2002 Yankees. Cashman thought that he would become a great outfielder when he saw Soriano play left field during spring training.
"Within a week it was clear to us that he was out best defensive outfielder. No disrespect to Bernie."
Okay folks, Soriano is a better outfielder than Bernie Williams, and Jason Giambi helped the Yankees more than Tino Martinez.
In 2004, Cashman traded Soriano to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Alex Rodriguez, and less than a year later, the Rangers sent Sori to the Washington Nationals.
Frank Robinson managed Washington. During spring training, 2006, Robinson made out a lineup card with Soriano, who had been exclusively a second baseman, as the left fielder. Soriano refused to take the field.
Alfonso Soriano is a good player who has never reached his full potential, despite having some outstanding seasons. He might have better tools than Derek Jeter, but old baseball scouts used to say that evaluating a player's tools is the easy part.
The difficult part is determining what's in a player's heart.
TYLER KEPNER. (2002, April 30). A Budding Star in the Bronx :A Budding Infield Star in the Bronx 'I'm working hard because I want to be perfect.'. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. D1. Retrieved June 20, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 731561482).
Alfonso Soriano at Baseball Reference
Alfonso Soriano at Wikipedia