Juan Soto finally got the day off Davey Martinez has been talking about giving him in the finale with the Boston Red Sox yesterday.
“This is the most he’s played in a row, it’s a perfect time,” Martinez explained, noting that it was a quick turnaround too after a 6:05 game the night before and an 11:05 AM 4th of July start time.
“Short rest, left-handed pitcher, I had to get him off his feet for a little bit,” the Nationals’ first-year skipper said.
“He’ll probably be in the game at some point, but it was nice to kind of — I had this planned for a while now just to give him that day.”
Through 40 games and 37 starts, Soto has put up an impressive .306/.419/.552 line, nine doubles, eight home runs, 26 walks, and 31 Ks in 160 plate appearances.
“It stinks, I know,” Martinez joked of having to give the kid a rest, “... because he’s been tremendous. And honestly, he bunted yesterday, and my face just glowed, because he understands the game, he really does.
“Here’s a 19-year-old kid that just really understands and appreciates the game, it’s fun to watch.”
It’s also important that the manager make these decisions, because as young as he is, a reporter noted, the Nationals’ rookie might not say he needs a day when and if he does.
“If we had 365 games, I’d love for him to play 365 games, but I understand the game and I’ve been around a long time to know that guys need a break,” Martinez said.
“And sometimes it’s good for him to just sit there and watch. Like I said, he’s a student of the game, he watches everything, and I’ll explain to him, I said, ‘Make sure you’re ready, this ain’t — you’re not getting a day off, you’re getting half a day, but make sure you’re ready.”
Soto did end up getting an at bat too, lining out into the shift in the bottom of the eighth, but he did really square up the pitch.
Soto’s back out in left tonight for the first of four with the Miami Marlins in the nation’s capital.