In marveling at what Juan Soto accomplished as a 22-year-old playing in his fourth major league campaign, Davey Martinez told reporters last weekend he was impressed by the way Soto responded to the the club’s trade deadline sell-off of veterans on expiring contracts (and the year-and-a-half of control left of Trea Turner before free agency), becoming a leader in the clubhouse and producing on the field in spite of the upheaval in the nation’s capital.
“He went through a period where a lot of his teammates left and were gone, guys that he built relationships with and bonded,” Martinez explained, “[and] for a while there he had a tough time, and then he realized that he’s got another group of young kids that he can help. He’s been a teacher, he’s been a mentor, guys always ask him questions, he’s been amazing, and all of a sudden it translated to him getting back to who he is and playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
“We kind of reboot right in front of him and not a peep of discontent,” GM Mike Rizzo said, after kick-starting the reboot by trading Max Scherzer, Turner, Brad Hand, Yan Gomes, Daniel Hudson, Kyle Schwarber, Josh Harrison, and Jon Lester for an assortment of young major-league-ready (or close to it) prospects, some of whom finished the season with the Nats, “and I think you’ve seen a different, even better gear if that’s even possible the second half of the season than he had in the first half of the season, and I think that says everything you need to know about him.”
Soto seemed like he was dealing with the aftermath of a disappointing 2021 season for the Nationals as a team just fine as he sat with agent Scott Boras and Nats’ hitting coach Kevin Long (in Scherzer/Turner Nationals jerseys) in the front row at Dodger Stadium this week watching former teammates, Scherzer and Turner advance to the NLDS with a Wild Card game win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night, and Scherzer and Turner both appreciated the show of support.
“This is how I’ll describe it,” Scherzer said of Soto and Long showing up in LA to cheer on their friends. “When you win a World Series you develop a friendship and bond that’s going to last a lifetime. So for those two guys, K-Long and Soto to be there, it just shows you the type of love it takes to be able to win a World Series, and that’s going to last forever.
Max Scherzer went over to high five Juan Soto and Kevin Long after the walk-off home run pic.twitter.com/HvV0s4FLzE— Blake Finney (@FinneyBlake) October 7, 2021
“They enjoyed being here and watching us and cheering us on. They’re connected to this because of Trea and I. I mean, that’s just a cool feeling. In baseball circles, you get real close knit, and to have their support and their presence here just adds to the experience.”
“Yeah, it was one of the coolest things I think that’s happened in my career and probably will happen in my career,” Turner said of Soto and Long’s trip to Chavez Ravine, “because I think, I don’t know, I think it’s appreciated by a lot of people, but the talk in our clubhouse was that was unbelievable, him and Kevin Long coming, I didn’t know they were coming. And then to be in me and Max’s jerseys is even kind of more funny and cool. And he’s a special person and you guys see all the stats, but playing with him and getting to interact with him every single day, it’s a treat and he’s got a good career ahead of him.”