Washington Nationals’ outfielder Juan Soto sat out each of the last three games with back spasms, but the team had hoped their 20-year-old slugger would return to the lineup for the series opener last night in Citizens Bank Park.
Soto had a .321/.419/.774 line, three doubles, and seven home runs in 13 games and 62 PAs in the Philadelphia Phillies’ home in his first year-plus in the majors, and the Nationals, who have struggled to produce much offensively in recent games could surely have used his bat.
When the lineup for the first of three in Philly was released he was out again, however, with skipper Davey Martinez explaining that the team was taking a cautious approach with their young star.
“I’m hoping that after today — they’ve been working on him diligently — so after today we’ll have more of a sense what’s going on,” Martinez told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“He still has a little discomfort in his back. So rather than try to push him through the day, hopefully he’s available to pinch-hit. I want him to actually try to get out on the field and participate in BP and move around. And this way we know he’s good.”
Soto underwent an MRI on his back this past week to make sure it wasn’t anything more than back spasms, and to rule out an oblique injury which is what they originally feared.
“We sent him to get an MRI, and everything came back negative, so he’s going to be day-to-day,” Martinez explained on Thursday night in D.C. “He’s a huge part of our lineup, but we want him for longevity, we don’t want to risk something else happening.”
Before the injury, Soto was in the midst of a 15-game on-base streak, over which he’s gone 14 for 57 (.246/.358/.474) with a double and four home runs and hits in 11 of the 15 games.
In the last three games before the injury, Soto was 9 for 33 (.273 AVG) with 3 home runs, 8 RBIs, four walks, and five runs scored.
This afternoon, the Nationals placed Soto on the 10-Day Injured List, retroactive to May 1st, and called up outfielder Andrew Stevenson to take Soto’s spot on the roster.