05/13/2010 11:43 AM ET
Rafael Soriano: Good place in AL East
Closer happy with his role on league-leading Rays
I've had good results so far this season. I've been throwing the ball the way I want to, I'm back in the American League, and I'm in this good division [AL East]. My arm and my body are working well together, and I'm in a good place.
Playing in this tough division makes me feel good. Everybody here hits, so that makes this an even better opportunity for me in this closer role. I like to compete against the best teams. I want to be on the mound against the Yankees and Red Sox. You get to face off against the best. I feel like I can match up well against the best.
When I was traded to Tampa Bay over the winter, I felt very happy about that move. Not only did I know that I was coming to a good team, but I knew I was going to a team with a manager who lets you play. He allows you to do what you need to do to get ready. I've been very comfortable since the first time I met Joe Maddon.
Knowing I would be the closer has been a big help, too. It helped me become prepared for my job both physically and mentally.
In Atlanta, two years ago, I was the closer in Spring Training, but I had an elbow problem, and I only got a couple of saves. I wasn't 100 percent for the rest of the year. Last year, I thought I would be the closer, but it turned out to be a shared role with Mike Gonzalez.
But when I came here, I was told I would be the closer. That's why they got me, and that's what they had been looking for over the winter. I was asked to do what I needed to do to be ready for my role this season, and I was comfortable with that approach. My program to get ready works for me. During Spring Training, I don't need a lot of work.
Maybe the most important thing is that I knew they really wanted me on this team. That makes me feel good. I talked to the general manager, Andrew Friedman, after they traded for me, and he told me we were going to have a lot of fun this year.
As a player, that is all you can ask for.
Rafael Soriano is a perfect 8-for-8 in save opportunities for the AL East-leading Rays. In 13 innings, he has a 1-0 record with a 2.08 ERA and 13 strikeouts. A native of the Dominican Republic, Soriano had a career-high 27 saves for the Braves last season.