There was plenty of talk from Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez this spring about having Juan Soto hit second in Washington’s lineup this season, and Martinez had him there in Grapefruit League games, but in the first six games of the regular season, Soto hit third.
Is there any thought to having him hit second eventually?
“He’s doing well at third,” Martinez said after penciling Soto in there again in Sunday’s series finale with the Los Angeles Dodgers in LA.
“I talk to Juan a lot about positioning and where to hit him in the game. He doesn’t seem to mind to hit anywhere really. He’s still going to work his at bats. I’d like to hit him second, [Victor] Robles is doing well leading off right now, so I want to leave things as is with [Trea] Turner hitting second and Soto hitting third for now, but it’s a long season, things may change, but the good news is Juan is swinging the bat really well and we want to continue to keep him that way.”
Is it just a matter of waiting for the likes of Kyle Schwarber and Josh Bell to return to the team after they both landed on the COVID-IL at the start of the season?
“Moving forward we’ll see how things transpire,” Martinez said. “I mean, like I said, right now — [Saturday] we scored five runs. We gave up more than that, but we scored five runs. And then like I said, Robles is doing well at the leadoff spot, and Turner is getting his hits, so we’ll leave it as is right now and when these guys come back we’ll see how things work out.”
Soto, for his part, (after a tough spring at the plate, when he was, he said, working on some things), has started heating up and barreling up the ball, as evidence by his two well-struck home runs in Saturday’s game. What has been the difference for Soto in his recent at bats?
“I think he’s getting ready a lot earlier than he was in Spring Training. In Spring Training he was a tad late,” Martinez said.
“His leg kick was a little bit bigger in Spring Training, so he lowered his leg a little bit, and now he’s on top.”
That’s where the Nationals need him. Well, not on top of the lineup, but on top of the ball, and at the top of his game, and maybe second eventually. He’s hitting third again tonight, even though Bell and Schwarber are back with the team and in there...