Another day, another lineup without Juan Soto. Soto did walk in a pinch hit appearance on Saturday night, but when Davey Martinez spoke to reporters in advance of Sunday’s series finale with the Atlanta Braves, the skipper said the 22-year-old outfielder was still not ready to return to the lineup after tweaking something in his right knee during Thursday’s series finale with the Philadelphia Phillies in Nationals Park.
“I talked to him afterwards,” Martinez said after Saturday’s plate appearance, “... and he still felt a little iffy running around the bases, he didn’t feel like he could really get after it. I told him, we give you today, if you can pinch hit today, we have a day off tomorrow, give you two days and we’ll see how he feels on Tuesday.”
At this point, Martinez said, he thinks additional rest will be enough for Soto, who was on a nice run coming out of the All-Star break before the issue with his knee, putting up a .357/.500/.714 line, four doubles, and seven home runs, with 20 walks and 14 strikeouts in 20 games and 90 PAs following his All-Star experience.
“Yeah, he’s definitely getting a lot better,” Martinez said. “Yesterday, he said he felt good, good enough to pinch hit, so, and I said, ‘What about running the bases?’
“And he says, ‘We’ll see,’ and when he got out there he jogged a little bit and he said he still feels it just a tinge, so I said, ‘We’ll let’s be safe, you can pinch hit again today and then we’ll go from there.’”
Martinez reiterated later in his post game Zoom call with reporters that they’re still not sure how Soto hurt the knee.
“Like I said, he took a lead, a secondary lead and felt it,” Martinez explained. “And the next day he said he was sore.
“Like I said, yesterday he got an MRI and it was pretty clean, there was nothing, everything came back negative, so we’re going to treat it as just a bone bruise, and then hopefully like I said, he feels better, he’s getting better, he’s feeling better every day, and he can come back and play and start the game on Tuesday.”
How is Soto handling the time out of the lineup?
“He’s frustrated,” Martinez acknowledged. “You know how much he loves to play the game. But he’s working and trying to get ready to come back and play.
“He’s in the training room getting treatment, I know he was in the cage yesterday for a little while just working on his swing and trying to stay ready.”
But the origin of the injury remains something of a mystery.
”He said he didn’t feel anything other than when he took his secondary lead and went to push back to go to second,” Martinez said.