Notes: Castillo encourages Soriano

Notes: Castillo encourages Soriano

JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals catcher Alberto Castillo played a role in convincing Alfonso Soriano to play left field on Wednesday afternoon.

The two were on the bus, on their way to Roger Dean Stadium, when Castillo told his teammate that teams will look at him as a versatile player once he becomes a free agent after the season if he played left field for Washington.

Castillo and Soriano have been friends since they were teammates with the Yankees in 2002. They both represented the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

"Other clubs will look at him as a second baseman or an outfielder," Castillo said. "Mentally, he is happy. He is going to play [the outfield]. I gave him some sound advice. I told him to go there, have fun. If he misses a fly ball, he has to come back the next day and try to get a coach who can hit him fly balls."

Outfielder Jose Guillen said he expects everybody to be patient with Soriano if he makes mistakes in the outfield.

"Let's not expect him to be the best left fielder in baseball, because everybody knows he doesn't know how to play the position yet," Guillen said. "He is here for his bat, not his defense."

More on Soriano: Manager Frank Robinson said that if Jose Vidro were to get hurt and miss a few games, Soriano would not get the start at second base. Infielder Damian Jackson most likely would get the nod. Robinson does not want Soriano to go back and forth between the outfield and second base.

Learning the ropes: Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has been voted the alternate player representative regarding union matters. Catcher Brian Schneider encouraged Zimmerman, 21, to get involved and learn the system.

"It was up to the older guys," Zimmerman said. "I guess they figured I will be in the game for a long time, so they figure I might as well learn what goes on. It will be a good learning experience."

Around the horn: The Nationals are 5-17-1 this spring. ... Pedro Astacio threw in a Minor League game Wednesday and pitched six shutout innings against Triple-A Round Rock, the Astros' affiliate. He struck out seven batters and walked one. ... Closer Chad Cordero pitched one shutout inning against Round Rock on Wednesday. ... Reliever Gary Majewski continued to have problems on the mound, giving up five runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Cardinals on Wednesday. ... Outfielder Kenny Kelly continues to improve at the plate. He is hitting .344 with three RBIs. ... Guillen played in his second game of the spring Wednesday and went 0-for-3 with an RBI. He didn't feel any pain in his left shoulder or left wrist.

Coming up: The Nationals return to Space Coast Stadium on Thursday afternoon to play the Orioles for the third time this spring. They both have a win apiece. Ramon Ortiz will get the start for Washington, while former Nationals pitcher John Halama will get the nod for Baltimore.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.