We promise we’re not trying to break your heart ... but here’s what Davey Martinez said to reporters on Saturday about how Juan Soto spent the night on Opening Day, after the 21-year-old Washington Nationals’ outfielder tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to return to quarantine a week-plus after he returned from a two-week quarantine after he’d come in contact with someone who’d tested positive upon returning to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic.
“Apparently ... he was standing in front of the TV with a bat during the game, taking pitches,” Martinez said, painting a sad picture of Soto on Opening Day.
“So the kid — obviously I miss him for sure, his teammates miss him, but we’ve got to do everything we can to keep him positive.”
Soto needs two negative tests before he can return to the club and rejoin them for the 60-game MLB season. Multiple reports, including one from Martinez on Monday, say he’s now gotten one negative test result back and the club is waiting on another.
As of Saturday afternoon, Martinez didn’t have any new news on the outfielder’s status.
“No news,” he said.
“We’re waiting on a test result. And then we’ll see what happens. I haven’t heard anything yet.
“I talked to him today, of course he wants to be with his teammates. he’s down, but he’s doing everything he can to stay ready.”
Days after Soto’s positive test, and the news that Tres Barrera got an 80-game suspension for a failed PED test, Stephen Strasburg was scratched with a nerve issue/impingement in his right wrist/thumb.
“We talk about those bumpy roads, right?” Martinez said, referring back, of course, to his speech after winning the NL Pennant last October.
“We definitely miss him on the team,” Soto’s friend and fellow outfielder Victor Robles said on Saturday night, “and he’s definitely missed big-time here with the Nats.”
Before Sunday afternoon’s series finale with the New York Yankees, Martinez was asked if he had any additional updates on Soto.
“Nothing,” he responded. “Just like I said, we’ll get him as soon as he’s able to come back, we’ll get him going again. That’s all I have.”
With all the time Soto has missed in the last month while quarantined, which makes working on things a bit difficult, Martinez said he is concerned about what effect that might have.
“It’s definitely concerning,” he said. “We tried to push him to get as many at bats as we possibly can when he missed so much time. We got him up to 20-something at bats, and now all of a sudden it’s basically we’ve kind of got to start over with him, which kind of stinks a little bit. But, hopefully it won’t take him as long, like I said, he’s a big part of our lineup.
“But we’ve got to be very careful. He’s one of our young players who plays every day, but we want to make sure that we keep him healthy when he comes back.”
Martinez did have some positive news on Monday afternoon, when spoke in advance of the start of a four-game home and “home” series with the Toronto Blue Jays.
“We got one test result back today, he tested negative, so we’re waiting on another, so we’ll see what happens,” the manager explained.
A reporter noted that it seemed like the Nationals had been waiting a long time to get the test results back? Martinez didn’t criticize the process.
“For me, and I’ve said this, you know we have our medical staff handling everything and I think they’re doing a good job. The testing, the MLB, they’re doing the best they can. We’re really at the mercy of when we get these tests back. So, hopefully the next one comes back soon and it tests negative, and we’ll see what happens from there.”
Meanwhile, Soto, and the Nationals, are in a holding pattern, waiting to see when they can get the outfielder back on the field.
“The good news is he feels fine,” Martinez said. “He’s got a bike in his apartment. He’s been riding the bike. He’s got some weights in there. So I know he’s trying to do the best he can to stay in shape.
“But I just tell him, ‘Keep your head up.’ Hopefully this is the last of it. You don’t have to worry about it, and once you’re back, you’re back, and we can get you on the field, and keep you on the field.”