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Joe Girardi: Rafael Soriano is the closer

Rafael Soriano celebrates after the Yankees defeated the

Rafael Soriano celebrates after the Yankees defeated the Kansas City Royals. (May 22, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Girardi said Wednesday that, unequivocally, Rafael Soriano is his closer.

That, of course, was not news with David Robertson on the disabled list.

What was a minor headline, however, was that Girardi said when Robertson does return from his strained left oblique, it’s not guaranteed he’ll be reinserted as closer.

“Let’s just see where we are when Robby gets back and how Robby’s doing and how he feels,” Girardi said. “I’ll cross that bridge when the time comes. But I’ve been comfortable bringing in Sori where we’re bringing him because of his experience.”

Soriano is 3-for-3 in save chances since Mariano Rivera was lost for the season May 3, allowing one earned run. Robertson was named closer by Girardi after Rivera’s injury, but was shelved with the oblique injury May 14.

There were some in the organization who believed, even with Robertson healthy, Soriano should have been made closer when Rivera went down.

One, Soriano signed a three-year, $35-million contract before the 2011 season with the thought that if Rivera retired during that stretch he would inherit the job.

And Soriano had done the job before, most recently in 2010 when he saved an AL-best 45 games with a 1.73 ERA with the Rays.

Then there was Robertson’s 2011 season when he shined as Rivera’s primary setup man, posting a 1.08 ERA in 70 appearances.

It is still not clear when Robertson will be back, but if Soriano is, for example, 10-for-10 in save opportunities with a 1.50 ERA when he does, the Yankees very well could just leave well enough alone.

Girardi said of Soriano, “Obviously he’s had a track record as a closer that’s been very successful. I expect him to do that here, too.”

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