An 0 for 4 game in the second game of three for Washington in Arizona left Nationals’ second baseman César Hernández 8 for 63 (.127/.203/.175) in 18 games and 69 plate appearances in the month of July, with three doubles, five walks, and 14 K’s over that stretch.
“For me, it’s getting ready on time,” manager Davey Martinez said in diagnosing what was behind Hernández’s struggles. “Staying on top of the baseball, and being early. He’s been late a lot, and he’s been getting underneath the baseball, so we’re trying to get him on time, trying to get him to stay back, you know, here’s a guy that we know he’s hit a bunch of home runs last year. He hasn’t hit any this year, and I think it’s getting it a little frustrating for him, but I told him, I said, ‘Hey, look all you can do is try to hit the ball hard and we’ll see what happens from there.’”
Hernández went 4 for 14 with a double, three walks, and three Ks over the final four games and 19 PAs on the trip, wrapping it up with a 1 for 3 game in which he hit his 21st double of the season, and took a walk.
“He got back early today, a little earlier, but he stayed behind the balls a lot better, he wasn’t jumping up there,” Martinez told reporters after the finale with the Dodgers.
“So like I said, he got set early, saw the ball deep, and hit the ball, tried to stay in the middle of the field, and was great.”
Juan Soto went into the All-Star Break on a nice run, going 18 for 44 (.409/.567/.864) with two doubles, six home runs, 16 walks, and four Ks in 15 games and 60 PAs, but in the first road trip of the second half, the 23-year-old slugger was 3 for 21 (.143/.333/.238) with one triple, five walks, and seven Ks in six games and 27 PAs in Arizona and LA.
Of course, Soto’s had a lot on his plate, especially since the report leaked he turned down a 15-year/$440M extension offer, and he spent the final weekend of the “first half” and his All-Star experience in Los Angeles answering questions about his future and the rumors he’s on the market now, and could be traded before August 2nd’s trade deadline.
“Yeah, we got to get him going again,” Martinez said after Soto went 0 for 3 with walk and two Ks in the finale in Dodger Stadium.
“It’s been a tough 10-12 days for him,” his manager added. “So, we go back home though now, he gets a day off to rest, regroup, and then we’ll come back. Like I’ve said before, I don’t really worry about Juan. Juan is a good hitter, he just missed a couple balls the last couple days, the strikeouts, we don’t see him do that often, but I think he’s just chasing a little bit, so we’ll get him back on track Friday.”
HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR THE SERIES OPENER WITH THE CARDS: