Davey Martinez said on Tuesday that the decision to put Juan Soto on the 10-Day IL was an easy one once an MRI revealed a strain in the 22-year-old outfielder’s left shoulder.
“A couple days ago he started complaining about his triceps a little bit,” Martinez explained.
“Just that he was sore. He said it again, and [Director of Athletic Training Paul Lessard] decided that the right thing to do was have him go get an MRI, and make sure there’s nothing really wrong with him.
“So we did that, and it showed a slight strain in the shoulder. So for me and [GM Mike Rizzo] it was a no-brainer to put him on the IL to get him right and get him ready when he’s ready.”
There will be a Soto-sized hole in the Nationals’ lineup for at least ten days, and it isn’t lost on the manager.
“It’s huge,” Martinez said. “He’s a huge part of our lineup, but you know, we put [Andrew Stevenson] in there today and he led off and he did really well. I talked to the boys after the game, and I said, ‘Hey, we got to keep battling every day. It’s going to be a battle every day. That’s why we play 162 games, so keep fighting every day. At the end of this we’re going to be okay, we’re going to come out on top.’”
There’s no guarantee it will just be ten days for Soto either, though Martinez didn’t want to engage in speculation when asked if he thought it might be a longer absence.
“Honestly, I couldn’t tell you,” Martinez said. “We’re going to try to get him ready as quick as possible, and when we deem he’s ready he’ll be back in the lineup.”
“You don’t want to see people get hurt,” Soto’s teammate Trea Turner said. “You want to be healthy, but I think better early than late, try to get this out of the way and get healthy.
“There’s a lot of baseball left, so keep plugging along and put in the work, and like I said about [Stephen Strasburg] and those guys, and [Wander] Suero, I know that Juan will put in the work each and every day to try to get healthy and get back as fast as he can. Hopefully he can do that and we can win while he’s not here, but hopefully he’s back soon.”
Soto, in pregame Zoom call before yesterday’s series finale with St. Louis, said that he was not too concerned about missing time, because he missed ten days in quarantine last year, after testing positive for COVID-19 before Opening Day, then returned to win the NL batting title in a big season at the plate for the outfielder.
“I think it’s going to make me feel better. If you remember last year, I went out in quarantine and then I came back stronger, so I’m going to try to do the same thing.”
“So why change?” Soto asked rhetorically. “You got ten days in quarantine again, be ready and come back stronger. I don’t mind.”
He said there was no specific play on which he suffered the injury, and it doesn’t hurt when he swings, though it does when he throws, so he’s just going to take things slowly and wait until it’s fully healed before returning.
“I come to the field every day to work my body and everything,” Soto said, “and try to do everything right so it doesn’t get to this point. But it’s tough to be on the [IL], but they just want to keep me safe, and it’s a long season. We want to play later in the season, not right now, so it’s better to take a couple days now than lose half of the season.”