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Alfonso Soriano still refuses to swtich positions

You know how Alfonso Soriano has said that he will not make the switch from second base to left field? Well, it was one thing for him to say it back when he was acquired from the Rangers early in the winter, and it's another to keep on saying it after spring training has started.

Apparently, the Nationals aren't exactly sure how this is going to shake out, but what would happen if they ultimately had to find a way to force the issue? The Washington Post reports that the two sides met last week and agreed to put the decision off another month, but there's still a chance that the team will have to force Soriano to move:

"It doesn't help to speculate," said Bob Boone, the Nationals' special assistant to the general manager. "We're trying to build a relationship here. What we don't want here is a T.O. situation." He was referring to Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens, who was suspended indefinitely by the team for "conduct detrimental to the team."

The Nationals believe the Soriano issue will never reach that point. While Soriano is away from the team for nearly three weeks, playing for his native Dominican Republic in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, team officials will have ample time to evaluate the surgically repaired right knee of incumbent second baseman Jose Vidro. If Vidro is injured, Soriano would move seamlessly into the second base job. And if they are healthy when Soriano returns from the WBC around March 21, the Nationals likely would pursue a trade of Soriano or Vidro.

Trouble is, neither player is a cheap option, and it might be difficult to move either one so close to the start of the season. Soriano is due $10 million this year before becoming a free agent in 2007, and he's already indicated that he will be returning to the American League, which means that he'll be looked at as a rent-a-player by any prospective NL suitors. And Vidro is due more than $22 million over the next three seasons, which, given the questionable status of his knee, may be too much for all but the richest of teams to gamble on.

The mere fact that Soriano is at RFK Stadium this year -- not to mention the possibility that he might be traded -- is enough for me to downgrade him at least slightly on my draft board this year. You can't pass him up in the second round, but he's no longer a first-rounder in my eyes.

A Questionable Force Play [Washington Post]