“Fu-ture, Dodg-er!” - LA fans during ASG:
Juan Soto faced another round of questions about his future when the 23-year-old slugger, (who may or may not get traded before the August 2nd trade deadline passes, after turning down Washington’s latest extension offer, rumored to have been for 15 years and $440M), spoke with reporters in advance of the series opener in Los Angeles last night. And it went just about as expected:
Juan Soto just spent 4 minutes deflecting questions/assertions from L.A. reporters who apparently have already decided he’s going to be a Dodger next week.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) July 25, 2022
As Soto reportedly said, at least he’ll know what the future holds for this season, and likely the next two after it, by August 3rd.
His manager, Davey Martinez, said he just wants Soto locked in on the field while Soto’s agent Scott Boras and the club’s front office talk and the Nationals wait to see if anyone want to give up a few of their top prospects and a couple big-league-ready, controllable players the Nationals want.
“For me it’s about being present,” Martinez said in his pregame presser from LA, “... and I always talk about that, I try not to worry about what’s going to happen ten days from now, because honestly anything can really happen, so I’m focused on today like I said, we got a good opponent that we got to play today, so let’s go 1-0 today and see what happens here tomorrow.”
“But, my focus is trying to get these guys ready to play today. I mean, I know what [Soto is] going through. I’ve been there. Henry [Blanco] has been there. A lot of us have been there through this deadline. Obviously his ceiling is way up there, but it’s still the same. This next 9-10 days for him is going to be a little bit — What’s going to happen? — but we got to keep him grounded. We got to let him know that for me, he’s a Washington National and I hope that he’s a Washington National for a long time, and I tell him that every day, and just go out there and have fun and play the game.”
Martinez did say he thought Soto had the support of his teammates, some of whom have been through it before as well, and all of whom hope Soto is still a Nat at the end of the day on 8/2.
“100%,” the support is there, he told reporters.
“There’s guys in there that have been through that time and time again, so they’re going to support him, we’re all going to support him. I know those guys, they don’t want him to go anywhere, he’s a big part of what we do here, so we’re all trying to put our hands around him and just tell him, ‘Hey, just go out there and play baseball.”
Oppo Yard Yadi:
Yadiel Hernàndez, his manager said before last night’s game, is determined to fight off pitches inside and still try to pull them.
“He’s trying,” Martinez joked. “We’re trying to keep him in the middle of the field. But they have been pitching him in and pitching him up, and he’s trying to pull a little bit more, but when he’s really good, you know that he hits the ball to left-center field, up the middle. So, his at-bats yesterday [Sunday] were really good, he drove the ball to right-center field, which is to me, that’s pull, and I tell him that all the time, ‘Don’t try to pull, just stay through the middle of the field, and you’ll end up hitting the ball to right-center field, and breaking balls you’re able to pull, but when he’s going really good, he drives the ball the other way.”
Hernández drove the ball the other way in the fifth inning last night, breaking up a no-hit bid by Dodgers’ starter Tony Gonsolin with an opposite field hit for the first of four runs the Nats scored in the frame.
“The way he hit the home run,” Martinez said after a 4-1 win in LA, “as we always talk about with Yadi, when he’s going good he drives the ball the other way, so that was a great at-bat, and like I said ... it put us on the board, the guys loosened up and we were able score some more runs.”
Rockin’ Rogers In Rochester:
Before the start of the series with the D-backs in Chase Field, Washington’s Nationals noted on Twitter the club had, “... returned Josh Rogers from rehabilitation assignment, reinstated him from the 15-day Injured List, and optioned him to Triple-A Rochester.” Rogers, 28, went on the IL on June 3rd with a left shoulder impingement, and he made four starts before the Nationals brought him off the IL and sent him down to their top minor league affiliate, where he threw five innings on July 22nd, giving up six hits and three runs, two earned.
Manager Davey Martinez was asked last Friday night why they optioned him out instead of putting back in the big league rotation (or bullpen), after he put up a 5.13 ERA, a 6.41 FIP, 11 walks, and 12 Ks, in 16 games, three starts, and 26 1⁄3 IP for the Nationals before the injury.
“Before he left, he was working on different pitches,” Martinez said. “I know he wanted to develop a changeup. He’s working on a different breaking ball. But more so than anything, is to keep him stretched out. I think we’ve got to keep him stretched out. The more starters that we can have down in the minor leagues, the better we’re going to be here in the long run.
“We’ve got to keep an eye on some of these innings with some of our guys,” he added.
“And you just don’t know what’s going to happen down the road here, so we want to keep him stretched out.”
Having Rogers stretched out and ready to step into the rotation, Martinez said, is the better route.
“I think that’s very much what the case is right now,” he said.
“Our bullpen’s been pretty good. And we need him to get length and keep him stretched out.
“So we thought the best way to do it is to get him to Rochester, let him pitch every five days, and then we’ll go from there.”