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Thursday, May 17, 2012

'Mariano told me he'll be watching every day,' said Rafael Soriano

5/16/12, NY Post, "Now, because of Mariano Rivera’s torn ACL and David Robertson’s oblique injury, Soriano has become one of the most valuable Yankees. He is the closer who has finally found a home. He’s excited that for the first time as a Yankee he can show his true ability....

Soriano is in touch with Rivera every day and believes there is a chance Rivera will be back late in this season.

“I want him to come back this year,’’ Soriano said. “Mariano has helped me so much. I always knew I could pitch, but he has helped me and how I am around other people and to be comfortable, especially in New York....

It was a difficult adjustment coming to the Yankees after saving 45 games for the Rays in 2010. He was signed by the Yankees to a three-year, $35 million contract with team president Randy Levine pushing to get the deal done. It’s a deal that could save the 2012 Yankees.

I talked to Mariano last year, and he told me, ‘Sori, when something happens in baseball, it happens for a reason. There is nothing you can do about it,’ ’’ Soriano explained. “ ‘Jesus gives you that. Try to make yourself better because of it. Come back stronger.’ That’s what I’ve done.’’

Several Yankees told me Soriano, at this stage of his career, is better suited for the ninth-inning role than Robertson. The team believes Soriano can do the job as closer.

Soriano really gets pumped up for that role,’’ said one Yankee. “It’s great to see.’’

“We’re two guys down, and it will not be easy for us,’’ Soriano said of the challenge ahead.

Soriano must step up. The Yankees need him more than ever.

I love it,’’ he said of the ninth inning responsibility of being the closer....

“I love it. I like when the game is tight,” he said. “ I want to be there, but I didn’t want anyone to get hurt.’’

It doesn’t matter how Soriano got the job, all that matters is doing the job. He wants to hold down the ninth until Rivera returns.

Mariano told me he will be watching every single day,’’ said Soriano, who has two saves. “He told me to be ready. I am ready.’’

Soriano is the Yankees’ closer. It’s his job now. He doesn’t want to let Rivera or the Yankees down.

“If I have to get four-out saves, whatever the team needs,’’ he said.

Soriano has gone from a pitcher with a diminishing role to having one of the most important roles on the team. He is where he belongs, on the mound in the ninth inning. Now, it’s a question of getting the job done.

Rafael Soriano believes his most difficult days of being a Yankee are behind him."

Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera at Yankee spring training, 2/17/11, reuters

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