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Soriano says putting on pinstripes "one of the most important days of my career"



Former Rays closer Rafael Soriano was officially welcomed to his new home with the New York Yankees Wednesday in a press conference, putting on pinstripes for the first time.


And though Soriano admitted his decision to be set-up man for Mariano Rivera could be perceived as "strange," he's excited for the opportunity.

"It's a great pleasure to be here, one of the most important days of my career to represent this uniform," Soriano said via a Spanish translator. "I know a lot of people will find this strange, but I'm very happy to be close to the greatest closer, and hopefully in the future I will be a closer, too."

Soriano, who led the AL in saves last season, signed a three-year, $35 million free agent deal, with the option to opt out after the first or second years. He won't get the option to close, at least full-time, until possibly after Rivera's two-year contract runs out, but he appears fine with that.

"Mariano is one of the ones who actually did something for me to be signed by the Yankees," Soriano said. "I'm going to learn a lot from him. He's one of the greatest closers and the communication between he and I is wonderful. We're going to do a lot of good for the team."

Yankees GM Brian Cashman talked about the "dynamic punch" both Soriano and Rivera will provide in the back end of their bullpen, and manager Joe Girardi said he views it as he has two closers.

"A lot of the success of the Yankees over the years has come because of a knockdown bullpen, and Soriano is adding to that," manager Joe Girardi said. "You could argue that Mariano and Rafael had the best years as closers last year, and we have two closers now. "When you have a lead, it's important to win those games, I'm going to be very excited to pick up the phone and call down and bring him into the game and feel good about it."

Soriano did mention the Rays briefly in his press conference a little. "They gave me a great opportunity and I did a good job," he said.





[Last modified: Friday, February 18, 2011 12:15am]


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