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Welcome Back, Juan Soto ... too soon? Nationals Park prepares for Soto & Josh Bell returning with Padres

Juan Soto, Josh Bell, and the rest of the Padres are back in the nation’s capital this weekend. Too soon?

San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Just a few short hours after news broke of the Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres’ mega-deal at the trade deadline, which sent Juan Soto and Josh Bell to southern California for five prospects (MacKenzie Gore, C.J. Abrams, James Wood, Robert Hassell III, and Jarlin Susana), and a big league bat (Luke Voit), a reporter asked Nats’ manager Davey Martinez if he knew it would only be 10 days before Soto and Bell were back in Nationals Park with their new team for the three-game series which starts tonight.

“Thanks,” Martinez deadpanned in response to the question.

While it may be emotional, when it gets past that, the manager said, it will be a matter of trying to do what other teams have struggled to do since May of 2018.

San Francisco Giants v San Diego Padres Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

“Yeah, we got to get [Soto] out. We got 10 days now, 10 days to think about that,” Martinez laughed.

“Right now I’m worried about today, and trying to get through today. But yeah, I haven’t even thought about that [Padres’] lineup yet.”

Soto started thinking about his new team’s lineup as soon as he found out where he was going at the deadline.

“It’s going to be really tough to go through,” Soto said, in his introductory press conference with the Padres, “and I wish good luck to the other pitchers.”

Martinez also said he would, of course, be happy to see his former players again, even if it hasn’t been very long since they left.

“I’ll always want to see them. I’ll always talk to those guys no matter what,” the fifth-year manager explained.

“When the game starts, they wear a different uniform, so we’re going to do everything we can to get them out. That’s the competitive nature of who we are. But like I said, I wish them well, I wish them both well, until they play the Nationals, and then like I said, let’s try to get them out.”

“Going back to Washington is going to be pretty emotional,” Soto said this Wednesday, as quoted by San Diego Union-Tribune writer Jeff Sanders.

“It’s been pretty tough, but I was prepared for this. I knew we were going back, so I’m more than happy to go back.”

Bell too said it would be emotional ... and also a chance to take care of some things he couldn’t deal with in the immediate aftermath of the deal.

Colorado Rockies v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

“I’m sure I’m going to have a lot of things to take care of when I get home,” he explained.

“Being in a hotel here [in San Diego] is definitely different knowing that I’m going to sleep in my own bed when I go back home. It’s going to be weird. But when we get back, we’re going to move out and get a place and have a more solidified home base.

“This will change here in the upcoming weeks.”

As for what sort of reception they are expecting when they return to D.C.?

“I’m sure it will be pretty big,” Bell told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I know Trea [Turner] got a big response. Max [Scherzer] did as well. I’m pumped to see what they have worked for him.”

“I’ve done everything for that team,” Soto said of his time in the Nationals’ organization.

“Whatever I did it was thinking of that team and the fans and stuff like that,” he added. “If they appreciate it, I will be more than glad.”

“I think the fan reaction will be very positive,” Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies on Wednesday, a week-plus out from the blockbuster deal. “Juan has done a lot for the organization in his tenure here, a member of the championship [team] that won [the World Series], so I think it will be a positive atmosphere, a positive reception for him and I think it will be a big crowd because San Diego is an exciting team to watch, they’re a good team, and I’d like to beat them a couple of times, it will be fun.”