Soriano leaves early because of strained muscle

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Seattle Mariners reliever Rafael Soriano
will be sidelined for three to four weeks after an MRI exam Tuesday
revealed a strained interior oblique muscle on his left side.

The 24-year-old right-hander was throwing off the mound Monday
when he felt a pinch in his left abdomen. The injury occurred
midway through workouts, and manager Bob Melvin immediately cut off
Soriano's pitching for the day.

"Anytime you hear three weeks, it gets your attention," Melvin
said. "The silver lining is that he has pitched deep into winter
ball. It's not a starter we're going to have to stretch out."

Soriano said he felt sore Tuesday but predicted he could be
ready to return within one week, if necessary. Melvin said team
officials expect Soriano to be available in mid to late March.

"If we get him sometime in the early 20s in March, we'll have a
couple weeks to get him ready, and that should be fine," Melvin

The Mariners open the regular season April 6 against visiting

Soriano, who throws in the upper 90s, was called up from the
minors last season to work from the bullpen. He went 3-0 with a
1.53 ERA and was the AL's rookie of the month in August after going
2-0 with a 1.62 ERA in 12 appearances.

Mariners catcher Dan Wilson opened the season on the disabled
list last year with a similar oblique injury that he sustained
midway through spring training. Wilson, though, was hurt while
swinging a bat.