Soriano's focused on arrival

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Atlanta Braves haven't seen him in a game, but Rafael Soriano sure does look and sound the part of a late-inning reliever.


Imposing was one word that kept floating around Friday, which was the late-arriving Soriano's first full day at the team's camp. Serious was another.

"There's no goofing off," manager Bobby Cox said of the team's new co-setup man. "He's into what he's doing."

Maybe Soriano's just making up for lost time. He arrived Thursday afternoon, eight days after he was supposed to report, because of visa issues in his native Dominican.

As of Friday afternoon, infielder Willy Aybar, because of the same reason, was the only Brave not to make it in.

After a week of waiting, the Braves' Big Three in the bullpen - Soriano, lefty Mike Gonzalez and closer Bob Wickman - are finally all together.

Upon arrival, Soriano met with general manager John Schuerholz and Cox. He reassured both men that he had been throwing at home - he pitched to fellow countryman Sammy Sosa last week - and that he was fully prepared for spring training.

After hearing that, Cox had Soriano throw a bullpen session Friday morning. Cox said, like the video he'd seen previously, he was impressed by what he saw in Soriano.

"He looked good. He's got a real heavy ball," Cox said. "He acts and speaks like a real veteran. He's a proven guy."

QUICK HITS: Cox might decide about his spring rotation as early as today. John Smoltz will likely take the ball first Thursday against Los Angeles, a sign that he'll be the team's Opening Day starter. ... After fighting back from a severe sinus infection, utilityman Chris Woodward was able to do everything in Friday's workout. ... Cox still seems satisfied with Kelly Johnson's fielding at second.

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