VIERA, Fla. -- Rafael Soriano is en route to Nationals spring training after his work visa was approved this morning in the Dominican Republic.
The Nationals' newly signed closer had been unable to report with his fellow pitchers and catchers on Tuesday because he was still waiting on paperwork in his native country. He missed Thursday's first official workout and again wasn't present for today's session on the practice fields adjacent to Space Coast Stadium but could be in uniform as soon as Saturday morning.
"The word I got was they stamped his visa this morning," manager Davey Johnson said. "I don't know what the travel plans are, but I imagine he'll be here sometime tomorrow. I'm not worried about that. I'm glad he got his visa."
Soriano, 33, signed a two-year, $28 million contract -- $14 million of that is deferred -- on January 17, a surprising move considering the Nationals already had two other right-handers with closing experience in Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard.
Johnson, though, plans to use Soriano (who saved 42 games last season for the Yankees) as his primary closer, with Storen getting some opportunities when Soriano needs a break.