59° Good Afternoon
59° Good Afternoon

Soriano Hardly a Victim / He wasn't on doomed flight, but will help Dominicans

The phone calls came "all day," Alfonso Soriano said, most of them from

people relieved to simply hear his voice. A Spanish-language New York radio

station reported that a professional baseball player had been on American

Airlines' Flight 587 Monday when it crashed in the Rockaways, and with

Soriano's Yankees having wrapped up the World Series only a week earlier . . .

the thought terrified the second baseman's friends.

He was just fine, sleeping in his New Jersey apartment, and when he flies

home Saturday to the Dominican Republic - the scheduled destination of the

fallen flight - he will be greeted with a parade as thanks for his terrific

rookie season. He hopes to thank his fellow Dominican natives in return, by

doing whatever he can to help the grieving families who lost people on the


"There will be a lot of people looking for help," Soriano said yesterday at

Gallagher's restaurant in Manhattan. "That is my responsibility. If I can help

them, I can help them."

He is not sure what he will do when he returns home. Next year, though,

when he comes back to New York for his sophomore season with the Yankees, he

intends to host a meal at Gallagher's for the victims' families and friends.

The 23-year-old has intended all along to fly home Saturday, but when news

of the crash broke, his mother, Andrea, called him on both his cell phone and

his apartment line. She couldn't track him down at either number and, at that

point, she began to grow a little nervous. After an hour or so of stress,

Andrea Soriano cried when her son called her back.

Soon, she will be able to see him in person. Soriano had agreed to

promotional appearances like yesterday's, where he plugged Gallagher's "Power

Lunch." He plans to spend about a month in San Pedro de Macoris, his hometown,

before flying to Tampa to be close to the Yankees' minor-league complex.

He has not had any significant contact with Yankees officials since the

World Series loss, but he said he was receptive to a positional switch.

Although team officials expressed satisfaction with the way Soriano improved

throughout the year at second base, the possibility remains that the Yankees

could acquire a top second baseman this winter and ask Soriano to switch to the

outfield. With little preparation, Soriano played leftfield very impressively

during last spring training.

"I just want to play for the Yankees," said Soriano, whose fiancee,

Angelica Cortes, acted as his interpreter. "They can do whatever they want.

Wherever they put me, I'm going to play."

New York Sports