Juan Soto missed all four games in Atlanta with a sore left elbow, and in the finale with the Washington Nationals’ NL East rivals, second baseman Luis García left the field with a sore heel, to add to the injury woes for the defending World Series champions this season.
“I guess he’s got a bruise on the bottom of his heel,” manager Davey Martinez said after the 10-3 loss to the Braves on Sunday, “and it was really bothering him today.
“So I wanted to make sure he got checked out, I didn’t want to push it. So he got checked out and they ruled it just a bruise. He’ll be day-to-day. So we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
UPDATE (2:30 PM): Before today’s game, Martinez said García is feeling better - “He’s going to go out and run around a little bit. So we’ll see how he’s feeling. But as of right now he’s penciled in the lineup.
They were still waiting to see on Soto before releasing the lineup - Martinez: “[Soto is] going to come in, he’s going to do some activation stuff, we’ll see how he feels.
“We’re still waiting to see how he feels, so hopefully we’ll know soon. If things change, obviously we’ll let you guys know, but he said he feels a lot better.”
With Soto still day-to-day too, and over the weekend Brock Holt filled in as the Nationals’ left fielder and went 8 for 12 with two doubles, finding a rhythm at the plate with consistent at bats.
It’s not easy replacing Soto in a lineup, of course, which the 32-year-old, nine-year veteran acknowledged after he went 7 for 9 in the last two games.
“I only got to see Juan Soto from afar, but now having been here for the last week or so and watching him, there’s not many Juan Sotos,” Holt said.
“Obviously we’re a lot better lineup with him in there, but it’s just trying to carry your weight and do what you can to help out when you’re in there.
“So, hopefully we can get him back soon and have him at the top of the lineup and then we can get things rolling.”
Victor Robles was at the top of the lineup all weekend, and the 23-year-old outfielder looked comfortable up there, going 6 for 17 with six singles in the four-game series.
“We’re trying some different things out,” Martinez explained after the finale on Sunday.
“[Robles] seems comfortable up there like I said. I looked at some of his numbers from the minor leagues, not that it means a whole lot, but he did do well down there leading off, so we’ll see. It could be something where I lead him off against left-handed pitching, and lead off [Adam] Eaton against right-handed pitching. You might see that. I kind of like him. [Robles] looks comfortable up there.
“When he gets on he definitely makes things happen, so but yeah, he’s swinging the bat better, you saw today, he squared around to bunt, it was a ball, but those are the kind of things that he needs to do.”
The Nationals earned a split in the matchup with the Braves, and now they’re back home for two with the Tampa Bay Rays then four more with Atlanta in the nation’s capital.
“We came out, we played, the guys, as you could see towards the end of the game today, they don’t quit, we scored some runs, but we were behind too much,” Martinez said after Sunday’s loss left the club 14-25 overall on the season.
“We just got to keep playing baseball. Tomorrow we get Tampa coming to town. We’ll bang heads with Tampa tomorrow and go 1-0 tomorrow. But I’m pleased, these games, we were one or two pitches away from keeping the game close, we didn’t swing really well early in the game, the bats came alive later in the game, but let’s keep playing baseball, that’s what I tell them, keep playing baseball.”