Juan Soto missed two weeks of the three-week ramp-up known as Summer Camp or Spring Training 2.0, after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 upon returning to the nation’s capital in early July. He then tested positive for the virus himself a few hours before the start of the season opener on July 23rd. Soto did, however, finally get back into the Nationals’ lineup this past Wednesday for the 9th game of 60 that Washington has on its schedule this season. So how did he look? Was his timing there at the plate?
What did Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez see?
“He was good,” Martinez said after Soto went 2 for 4 with a double and single in his first two at bats of the 2020 campaign.
“His first at bat he took a breaking ball and smoked it to left field for a double. Took a ball up and in, stayed inside the ball, base hit to right. But he looked good. He really did.
“A little jumpy, but that’s to be expected his first game back, but he looked good. For me, I love writing his name in the lineup, hitting fourth, it’s nice.”
But, the manager acknowledged, there is still some building to do for the Nats’ left fielder, who spent his time in quarantine once the season started standing in front of his TV, with his bat in hand, trying to work on his timing that way before he could return.
“Hopefully we continue to build him up, and he gets ready to play and we can put him out there every day,” Martinez said, but he knows he has to be careful, in spite of the fact that Soto’s youth works in his favor when it comes to bouncing back physically-speaking while he’s building up strength.
“I always say, he’s 21 years old, so it doesn’t take him long to get ready and get loose, but we definitely have to keep an eye on him.”
Soto said he was actually happy to have a day off following his first game of the season, as the Nationals got a fifth day off in the last seven days yesterday.
“I’m going to rest tomorrow,” Soto said on Wednesday night, “because I played nine innings, and I haven’t played nine innings in a long time.
“I’m going to try to rest my legs, try to get a little treatment on my wrist, and in my legs, try to keep in shape and try to come ready on Friday.”
Soto’s back in there tonight as the Nationals and Baltimore Orioles start a three-game set in Washington, D.C.