Soriano was limited to 14 innings in 2008, though he pitched well (16 K, 7 H, 2.57 ERA, 3 saves — but 9 walks) when he did pitch. He had three stretches of activity, one at the beginning of the season, one in May and June, and one in July and August. What would happen is that he would pitch, and then tell the Braves that his elbow hurt. They would shut him down, and send him to see the doctor. The doctor would give him an MRI and say that there was no structural damage. With rest, his elbow would stop hurting, and the Braves would start using him again. Rinse and repeat.
Not to make this personal, but in my recent exposure to the American medical system, I’ve had it reinforced (through three scans’ worth of a misdiagnosis) that sometimes there is no substitute for the human eye actually looking at the situation. Modern imaging equipment is a wonderful thing, and it saves lives and effort. But it has its limits, and the MRI — even the extra-special super MRI — didn’t see a real problem.
The Braves, ultimately, decided that he was a whiner, and started leaks to that effect. After Soriano was shut down for good, Dr. Andrews opened up his elbow and actually looked, rather than just give him another MRI, and found that Soriano had a displaced nerve in his elbow. The nerve was fixed, and a small bone spur removed, and the projection was that he would be ready for spring training. Recent reports differ on if he will or won’t.
When he pitches, Soriano is yet another fastball-slider pitcher; his fastball hits 100 on occasion. I am still not convinced that he wouldn’t be more valuable as a starter; he’s pretty much abandoned his changeup, though, and two-pitch pitchers don’t make good starters. (Chuck James, I’m looking at you.)