Soriano to meet with Nats

Soriano to meet with Nats

WASHINGTON -- Nationals left fielder Alfonso Soriano said on Friday night that he and agent Diego Bentz will meet with front-office personnel next week in hopes that Soriano can remain with the club past this season.

The news comes a day after the club told Frank Robinson that he would not be its manager in 2007.

The meeting with Soriano is scheduled for Wednesday in Washington, and Soriano gave the impression that the Nationals set up the meeting. General manager Jim Bowden and Jose Rijo, the special assistant to the general manager, were not available for comment.

Soriano is a free agent after the season, and the club has made no secret it wants to sign him long term.

"I don't know what they want to say," Soriano said. "We don't know. ... They want to meet me. I think I have to say, 'Thank you for letting me be a part of this group. Thank you for what they did for me.'"

It was revealed by two sources this summer that Soriano would like to make more money than Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, who signed for three years and $39 million last December. Soriano is looking for something in the range of five years for $80 million. The sources believe that Soriano is willing to backload the contract, realizing that that the Nationals are looking to build for the long-term future of the franchise.

"They know already they have the first choice," Soriano said. "That's the most important thing for me. And from there, we'll see what happens."

Soriano said he told Bentz that he did not want to negotiate a new contract during the season because he wanted to enjoy himself on the field. And a source said recently that the Soriano camp was true to its word about not negotiating during the baseball season.

Soriano did, in fact, enjoy himself on the field. He became the charter member of the 40-40-40 club (40 homers, 40 steals, 40 doubles) and leads the Major Leagues in outfield assists with 22.

Entering Saturday's action, Soriano is hitting .278 with 46 home runs, 95 RBIs and 41 stolen bases. He is currently in a 8-for-62 (.129) slump, though, with just one home run and four RBIs in his last 16 games. Soriano acknowledged that it's hard for him to concentrate with the team out of contention.

"The season is over already," Soriano said. "So it's hard to concentrate when you play for nothing. I like to play for one reason: [winning]."

Soriano called the 2006 season his toughest in baseball, because of the controversy about switching from second base to left field, the switch to a new league, dealing with trade rumors and getting to know his new teammates.

"There were a lot of things going on," Soriano said. "I think it's time to rest my mind, because I'm working too hard, especially [on the mental side]."

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