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Nats' Soriano does quick work in Grapefruit debut

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VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals reliever Rafael Soriano threw a quick seventh inning against the Astros on Tuesday, recording one strikeout in his Grapefruit League debut.

Soriano got a little help from catcher Kurt Suzuki and, perhaps, the Space Coast Stadium ballpark dimensions in the inning that lasted just 12 pitches. He threw seven strikes.

Soriano faced Justin Maxwell to lead off the inning, who hit his 1-0 offering well, about 400 feet to deep center field, before Corey Brown brought it in for the first out.

J.D. Martinez then singled on a grounder past a diving Zach Walters at shortstop, but was gunned down by Suzuki trying to steal. Soriano retired the next hitter, Robbie Grossman, swinging to end the inning.

"He's a character, to say the least," manager Davey Johnson said of Soriano. "He knows what he needs to do to get ready. He threw the ball good. He was a little frustrated that we had all those rallies. He was ready to go. He said he was down there throwing knuckleballs and stuff trying to kill some time."

Soriano, 33, was acquired by the Nationals this winter to be the team's new closer despite an already-loaded bullpen that includes Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, who both have experience closing games.

Johnson said that Soriano will probably make about eight appearances this spring.

"He's been throwing several [live bullpen sessions], and he's been throwing good," Johnson said. "He knows what he needs to do to get ready."

Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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