In six games, three starts, since coming off a two-week stint on the 10-Day IL, Juan Soto has gone 2 for 15 (.133/.235/.333) with a homer, two walks, and three Ks in 17 plate appearances.
“He’s missed two weeks,” Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said after Soto’s 0 for 4 day in the series finale with the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium, which saw him ground into an inning-ending double play the first time up, fly out to left in his second trip to the plate, ground out sharply to second in at bat No. 3, and pop out to short in his fourth plate appearance.
“He’s working his way back. He just missed — he popped up, he had a good swing at the ball, he just missed it.
“He hit a hard ground ball to second base, you know, like I said, when you miss time, your timing gets a little off, you’re facing different pitchers.
“So I think it’s just a matter of time before things click and you start seeing him hitting the ball hard all over the place.”
Soto told reporters after the second loss in a row in New York, that he felt like he got locked in at the plate, timing-wise at least, during a series of pinch hit appearances before he went back out to right field over the weekend.
“It just took me three at bats as a pinch hitter, since I took all those three at bats I think I feel great,” Soto said. “Last time I pinch hit, I hit the ball hard, really well, and after that I just feel like my timing is back. Ready to go.”
Confident as he is, Soto said he needs to get consistent at bats to get back to where he was at the plate before he suffered the left shoulder strain that landed him on the IL.
“Right now just got to keep swinging,” he said.
“I have my swing right on it, my timing is right on it, I just got to find a way to square the ball up and try to find the gaps. I hit the ball really well today twice, I just couldn’t find the hole.
“Just keep swinging and try to give it my best.”
Soto made three pinch hit appearances last week in the nation’s capital, before returning to the lineup as the DH in the first and third games in New York, and making one start in right.
The club has taken things slowly with Soto’s throwing in the outfield, and he said he felt he is ready to return to the field full-time without the benefit of a DH spot.
“They just want me to keep working on it,” he said of the throwing he’s done as he’s worked his way back, “and keep being ready and getting better and better every day. But I feel well.
“We’re going to see how I feel after the off day and take the decision from there to see if I can play every day.”
Was he ready to go for the first of three with the Phillies in D.C.?