For a moment, Alfonso Soriano wrapped himself up in a cocoon of pinstriped nostalgia.
"I remember the Yankees when I used to play,'' he said. "We don't lose games like this -- 1-0. I don't remember we lost [maybe] one or two games like this, one or two hits, 1-0 . . .
"It's very hard.''
Soriano, traded to the Rangers in February 2004, returned to the Yankees on Friday, but this is not the team he remembers.
The star power has faded, the offensive numbers are way down and "games like this'' -- a frustrating, impotent day against Tampa Bay Rays righthander Chris Archer -- have become all too common.
Not to mention that the man he was traded for (Alex Rodriguez, in case anyone forgot), has caused enough recent drama to all but erase the once-untouchable Yankees veneer.
"There's a possibility to try to do too much,'' he said of joining a team in a difficult spot. "The team offense is not good right now, but as soon as we put one inning together, I think everything will be fine.''
There are big adjustments to be made, though. Instead of creating interest as an up-and-coming rookie second baseman with power and speed, the outfielder now has caused a stir because his 17 home runs this season certify him as the second-biggest power threat in the lineup (Robinson Cano has 21).
On Saturday, he hit cleanup for the second day in a row, going 0-for-3. He's 0-for-8 in his first two games with the Yankees.
"I think he's comfortable,'' manager Joe Girardi said. "I think, though, that any time you're part of a trade, you kinda want to make a big splash, but this is not a new place for him, which I think helps him.''
Soriano admitted he felt the pressure, though he said that Saturday's difficulties started with Archer's fastball and slider. He pitched a two-hitter with six strikeouts and no walks.
"We try to do the best, but sometimes you have to give credit to the pitcher,'' he said. "[But] always, when you put on the uniform, it's pressure. But you have to figure out the way you can control that pressure. That's what I try to do all the time. I put on the uniform, it's pressure, because you play this game, but that's what I like to do, and I hope we start hitting [Sunday].''
As it happens, that's the day the Yankees plan to have Derek Jeter back, barring any setbacks. And if there ever was a harbinger of Yankees nostalgia, the captain would be it.
As for Soriano -- who hit 77 homers, stole 76 bases and had 407 hits for the Yankees in 2002-03 -- he seems all but bursting at the idea of returning to the team he once knew, even if things won't ever really be quite the same.
"I used to be the rookie here, so now I'm the veteran guy here,'' he said. "I was blessed to put on the Yankee uniform, so I'm more happy and more blessed to have the opportunity one [more] time to put on the uni.''