Juan Soto started in each of the Washington Nationals’ first 63 games this season, but before the top of the ninth in the 63rd, the 22-year-old slugger banged his knee on the dugout bench somehow, and when he appeared uncomfortable playing right field, so manager Davey Martinez hit for him in the bottom of the inning.
“He slipped and smacked his knee on the corner of the bench,” Martinez explained after the game.
“He got pretty sore. So, just to be safe I took him out. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
“He did it before the inning,” the fifth-year skipper said when pressed for more details. “He said he can go out there, but he was limping pretty good when he went out to the field. He came back and he said he started getting really sore, so I said I don’t want to chance it. So we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
When the manager filled out his lineup card for the 64th game of the season, he left Soto’s name off it for the first time in 2022.
“He’s okay,” Martinez assured reporters. “He’s banged up a little bit. But I think with the knee — I think it was a good day to give him a day off. I mean, we got a lot of games coming up this weekend. He hasn’t had a day off yet all year, so I wanted to give him a day.”
As he went on to explain, he wasn’t concerned that it was going to be a longer-term issue for his right fielder, and the decision was not based on what he saw when Soto arrived at Nationals Park.
“No, we got him an X-ray yesterday, and he was fine,” Martinez said.
“This morning, after him limping off the field yesterday, I had just decided not to play him and give him a day.”
Following the club’s second straight loss to Atlanta, and their third straight loss overall, Martinez was asked if he’d have Soto back in there for tonight’s series finale.
“We’ll see,” he said. “He tried to get loose today, he was still a little tight. He said he feels a lot better.
“In the middle of the game he said he felt a lot better, so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow when he wakes up.”
Is Soto back in there? Let’s see… nope. Sorry.