10/22/2003 8:19 PM ET
Notes: Soriano unfazed
Despite struggles at dish, second baseman confident
MIAMI -- Alfonso Soriano has seen better days at the plate, but the second baseman remains confident that he can help the Yankees in their attempt to win a 27th World Series title.
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
After hitting .368 in the first round of the playoffs, Soriano has struggled, batting .133 (4-for-30, 11 Ks) in the ALCS against Boston and .167 (2-for-12, 6 Ks) in the first three games of the World Series.
In his last four games, Soriano is just 2-for-17 with 10 strikeouts, though one of those hits was his two-run homer in Game 2 against the Marlins. In Game 3, Soriano went 0-for-4 with a walk and three strikeouts, looking lost against Florida starter Josh Beckett.
"I can't think about last night. Today is a new day, a new game," said Soriano before Game 4, as the Yankees prepared to take batting practice. "These are the last moments of the season, so you have to enjoy them. If it were the regular season, I may get frustrated, but we're in the World Series, so I look at each day as a new day. I feel great."
Soriano was in his familiar leadoff spot in the lineup for Wednesday's game, as manager Joe Torre saw no benefit of dropping him down to the bottom of the lineup.
"If I bat him eighth, he'll have no chance with the pitcher hitting behind him," Torre said. "Who knows what he'd be swinging at. In this type of lineup, it's tough to do that. ... He needs to just forget about everything and let it go."
A few days ago, Soriano said that he felt fine at the plate, but he was swinging at bad pitches. Torre backed that theory at the time, but says now that Soriano's hitless Game 3 was not a matter of bad pitch selection.
"I could let that go for a while, but yesterday he wasn't swinging the bat. He was behind a lot of fastballs, which isn't him," said Torre, who talked with Soriano on Wednesday afternoon about his struggles.
"I told him to just rely on his natural ability. He's thinking too much up there," Torre said. "The wheels are turning and he's trying to do everything that he thinks he needs to do instead of just reacting to the ball. He doesn't have the bat speed that he normally has, which is all about thinking too much. He's just not attacking the ball."
"I didn't have my bat speed last night, so when I swung at a good pitch, I didn't have my regular swing," Soriano said. "I don't know what happened, because I was seeing the ball good. It was just a bad night. I'm still confident when I go to the plate. I'm just trying to feel comfortable."
For starters: The Yankees' four-man postseason rotation has more than made up for their poor showing in the 2002 playoffs, when they combined to post a 10.41 ERA in a four-game ALDS loss to the Anaheim Angels.
Through the first 14 games of the postseason, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and David Wells have combined to go 8-4 with a 2.84 ERA, bringing the Yankees two wins away from their fifth title in eight years.
"I felt better going into this postseason than I did last year," Torre said. "You know they're capable of pitching this well, but will it happen? I wasn't as comfortable with the way they were pitching going in last year. Toward the end of this year, we pitched well."
Farewell to Rocket: With Roger Clemens making the final start of his career in Game 4, it's only natural to assume that it will be an emotional evening for him and his teammates. But with the Yankees looking to move within one win of a title, Clemens' farewell isn't something they want getting in the way of the big picture.
"I hope we don't have that approach going in, because it will take away from how important this game is for other reasons," Torre said. "We have to win this game because it gets us one game away from winning the World Series. We can't get caught up in what it means for Roger until it's over."
"We'll get emotional later," said Jorge Posada. "We can't think about that right now. We have to just go out there and compete."
Torre, who has managed Clemens for the last five years, talked before Game 4 about some of his experiences with Clemens, including the personal side of him that most people don't get to see.
"He's a very sensitive guy who cares a great deal about the people around him. The pitching is just a piece of the puzzle of him," Torre said. "It's not a job to him, it's still a game. He's there for other players, young or old. He knows he's good, but that hasn't kept him from caring about other people."
Added Torre: "I'm really going to miss him."
Torre said that the one game that will stay with him above all others is Game 3 of this year's ALCS, when Clemens allowed two runs over six innings to defeat the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
"I know he had that dynamite game against Seattle in the postseason, but that was just an outing. This one was war-like," Torre said. "He held up his end on the road, at Fenway Park, and I'll always remember that game."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.