10/23/2003 7:51 PM ET
Soriano takes a seat for Game 5
MIAMI -- Alfonso Soriano was not in the lineup for Game 5 of the World Series, as manager Joe Torre decided to give his slumping leadoff hitter the night off.
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
Soriano was replaced by utility infielder Enrique Wilson, who was slotted into the No. 2 hole in the lineup behind Derek Jeter.
"It's a very tough thing for me to do. I feel loyal to everybody, but I felt I had to do it," Torre said. "I told him that it doesn't really look like he has a feel for what he's doing right now. He's pressing. I know he's not afraid, because I've seen him handle a lot. He just doesn't seem to have a zone that he's looking in, and they're not throwing him strikes."
Soriano is just 3-for-18 in the series, a .167 average. In the postseason, Soriano is batting just .209 (14-for-67) with a playoff-record 25 strikeouts. After hitting .368 in the Division Series, Soriano is hitting .146 (7-for-48) in the ALCS and World Series.
"I wasn't happy, but I know I'm struggling," said Soriano of the decision. "I like to play every day, but Joe made the decision to put Wilson at second because he thinks he can do a better job. Maybe I'll get a chance as a pinch-hitter. Who knows?"
Soriano had played in all 15 games this postseason, and the 25-year-old had appeared in all 21 of the Yankees' postseason games over his first two full seasons.
In the past, Torre has sat a slumping player for a day before an off-day, giving them two days away from the plate to regroup and try to regain their previous form.
"I'm swinging at bad pitches, that's the problem. Joe thinks I'm trying too hard, but I think that's the problem," Soriano said. "I guess he sees something that I don't see. He wanted to give me two days off, then see how I am Saturday. Maybe this will clear my mind."
"I said, 'You never know, you may come off the bench and win a game for us.' You won't start today, we're off tomorrow and Saturday you can start fresh," Torre said. "He was respectful. He wants to play, I just think he's fighting himself so bad."
Torre said that Soriano's struggles have turned him into a different hitter than the one who hit .290 with 38 home runs this season. The manager said that it looks as if Soriano is reacting to the pitcher's hand rather than the ball, committing to swinging at a pitch regardless of its location.
"When you watch him every day, you know he's just not as comfortable hitting," Torre said. "You've seen him up there with that 'I dare you' stance. Now, he's off-balance on a lot of his swings."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.