So, How’s Juan Soto Doing?:
Juan Soto threw on the field again before Sunday afternoon’s series finale with the Miami Marlins in the nation’s capital. Soto’s still on the 10-Day IL after landing on the list with an issue in his left shoulder. Throwing again, since he did not experience any pain swinging, was the obvious test he’d have to pass before returning, so now that he’s throwing again, how close is he to coming back?
“He’s going to throw today,” manager Davey Martinez said in his pregame Zoom call on Sunday morning.
“They’re going to push him back to 120 feet, we’ll see how he fares today, and we’ll go from there.”
So, a reporter noted, it seems like the 22-year-old outfielder is still a few steps away from a return to the lineup?
“I still believe that he’s going to have to take ground balls,” Martinez said. “He’s hitting, he hasn’t seen any live pitching. I don’t know if we want to do that with him. He’s hitting off the velo machine, which is always good, but we’ll see how he gets through today and then we’ll go from there. Hopefully it won’t be that much longer. He feels good. So we’ll see. But we got to get him stretched out. I want him to emulate the throwing by hitting him ground balls and maybe throwing to second base, throwing to third base and stuff like that.”
At this point he’s been on the IL since April 20th though, so will he need to go on a rehab assignment, since the minor league season is starting up this week, before he’s ready for baseball in the big leagues?
“He’s been hitting,” the fourth-year skipper explained. “He said the hitting is not an issue. He prepares himself like I said by hitting off of that velo machine. I know we got machines where we throw him breaking balls. After talking to him he said he’s not — after talking to him he says he’s not overly concerned about that. We’re just more worried about — the reason he’s in this predicament was because of the throwing, so he just wants to really make sure that when he throws he doesn’t feel anything.”
Injury Updates — Nationals’ M*A*S*H unit:
It’s time for your daily rundown of the injured Nationals working their way back from their various injuries and ailments. We already touched on Soto above, but he’s not the alone...
Wander Suero got a lot of work early this season (eight appearances in the team’s first 12 games), but he’s been on the IL since April 17th with a left oblique issue. How’s he doing?
“He’s throwing,” Martinez said, “he’s going to throw again at 120 feet today and then if that goes well we hope to get him on the mound some time this week and throw a live bullpen and then we’ll go from there.”
And how about Stephen Strasburg? The starter has been out of action since going on the IL with right shoulder inflammation on April 18th. He’s been throwing in Nationals Park, with a bullpen session on Saturday, but will we see him back in the rotation any time soon?
“He’ll go through a routine again this week,” Martinez said on Sunday morning.
“He threw the ball. Actually he threw 32 pitches yesterday. Said he felt okay. He wasn’t as sharp as he wanted to be. I really thought after looking back his two-seamer was really good, his changeup was phenomenal, but we got to build him back up. He’s going to go through his routine today, his program, and then we’ll see where he’s at and hopefully he throws another bullpen by the week’s end.”
Strasburg not as sharp as he wanted to be? That’s not too surprising. Does he ever say he’s happy with a throwing session?
“You know Stephen Strasburg, so... he’s a perfectionist,” Martinez joked. “He wants to throw every pitch the way he wants to throw it. And that’s what you’ve got to love about Stephen.”
.500 OR BUST!!!:
A win in the series finale with Miami would give Washington a three-game sweep in their own ballpark, and get them back to .500 on the year... but would they do it?
It hasn’t been easy for the Nationals over the first month-plus of the 2021 season, with a lot of adversity to overcome, but they’d won 6 of 10 and three straight going into Sunday, and their manager said he was happy with what he’d seen from his team. What was behind the run?
“I think it’s — we’re pitching,” Martinez said. “Our starting pitchers are pitching deeper into games. Our bullpen has been really good. And we’re getting some timely hitting. It’s all coming together, to fruition. We always talked about — we missed some guys early on in the season, but now they’re starting to play together. They’re starting to feel like this real good togetherness, this unity, so things are starting to click. It’s good to see. They’re having a lot of fun.
“Different guys are stepping up every day. So, it’s been a lot of fun for these guys, so let’s keep it going and go 1-0 today.”
Getting to .500 with a win, he said, would, obviously, mean a lot.
“Of course it does,” he said. “You always want to be above .500, a lot above .500. But you know, like I said, we’ll go out today and we’ll compete. The one good thing, and I say this all the time, is the way these guys are playing. They’re playing hard every day, and it’s fun to watch. They’re leaving it all out on the field, regardless if we’re winning or losing these guys are playing hard, so it’s been fun so far, it’s been fun watching these last few days, and getting back to where we know we can be and continue to win games consistently.”
A 3-1 win led by Max Scherzer’s complete game and Ryan Zimmerman’s three-run home run got the Nationals back to .500 at 12-12.
“We’re going to sit back and enjoy this one,” Martinez said after the game. “Got a day off tomorrow, again, and then we’re going to come back and we got the Braves coming to town, so we got to come back and get ready. Like I said, there’s no easy task here, we’ve just got to continue to play good baseball.”