Juan Soto Drama Continues:
Juan Soto reportedly turning down a 15-year/$440M extension provide from Washington set off a firestorm of tales in regards to the Nationals now contemplating buying and selling their 23-year-old for prospects and main league-ready expertise, with two and half years left earlier than he turns into a free agent. Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo acknowledged clearly in early June the membership wouldn’t be buying and selling the correct fielder in D.C., but when the newest reporting is to be believed, the entrance workplace within the nation’s capital may need modified their thoughts(s) with all that’s gone on for the reason that first report of the newest provide being turned down (and dismissed by Soto’s agent, Scott Boras).
Soto, who was peppered with questions on his future throughout final Monday’s All-Star media availability in LA, confronted much more questions after he received the HR Derby, and he dealt with all of it in addition to might be anticipated, telling reporters he was going to let his agent reply questions on his contract standing whereas he stayed targeted on taking part in the sport.
“I simply let my agent do no matter they must do. All of the conversations that they’ve, they’ll have them with him. I’m simply going to be right here to play baseball. I’m simply going to go to Nationals Park and provides my hundred % every single day,” Soto mentioned.
Earlier than Sunday’s recreation in Chase Area in Phoenix, Arizona, the place Washington opened up the second-half of the 2022 marketing campaign, supervisor Davey Martinez checked in together with his slugger to ensure his head was in the correct place heading in direction of the commerce deadline, August 2nd.
“I like to speak to him, particularly this time of 12 months, with every part occurring and simply ensuring that he’s engaged and relaxed and simply goes on the market and performs baseball,” Martinez defined, noting it was only a common dialog.
The fifth-year supervisor mentioned he thought Soto dealt with himself nicely in LA, and has taken all of it in stride whereas issues have picked up for him on the sphere following a sluggish (by his personal excessive requirements) begin on the plate this season.
“He’s good,” Martinez informed reporters. “Yesterday was an ideal instance: He was rooting his teammates on the entire recreation, and cheering and stuff, simply I do know for a younger participant on this state of affairs, it may be robust, and I simply need to be sure that, ‘Hey, you’ll be able to solely management what you’ll be able to management, so simply go on the market and proceed to play onerous and do what you’ll be able to to assist us win.’”
“Like I’ve mentioned earlier than, for me he’s a Washington Nationwide. That’s the way in which I see him, and that’s the way in which I’ll see him till in any other case. However I like him. And like I mentioned, he’s among the best younger hitters within the recreation,” the skipper added at one other level.
“It’s a testomony to who he’s,” Martinez mentioned of the way in which Soto has dealt with himself over the previous few weeks, “as a result of we had been on the All-Star Recreation and all these rumblings got here out and as you’ll be able to see, he dealt with it professionally, and he went out and did what he wanted to do. He competed within the HR Derby and received by all these things, so he will get it. and I do know it’s — generally as a participant you surprise what’s subsequent, however he really — he’s been specializing in staying within the second, and that’s the largest factor I attempt to inform him, is simply be right here now, and don’t fear about the rest, and simply get able to play the sport as we speak.”
Hernández Nonetheless Looking For No. 1 of 2022:
At this level final season, (July twenty fourth), César Hernández had 16 residence runs in 93 video games and 408 plate appearances, however he entered play on Sunday this 12 months homer-less over his 95 video games and 412 PAs, which his supervisor, Davey Martinez, mentioned he was afraid may be actually weighing on the infielder who signed a $1-year/$4M free agent cope with the Nationals this previous winter.
“Yeah, I fear just a little bit,” Martinez acknowledged. “Typically I hear rumblings of him speaking that if he hits the ball onerous he thought possibly that ball ought to have gone out, and I mentioned, ‘However hey, all you are able to do is hit the ball onerous. Don’t fear about hitting residence runs.’ For him, if he can simply give attention to staying in the midst of the sphere, he’ll hit some doubles, you understand, in order that to me is the important thing, simply keep in the midst of the sphere and simply attempt to drive the baseball.”
Hernández went into the All-Star break in an offensive stoop, and with a .127/.203/.175 line in 18 video games performed this month, he’d gone from .264/.322/.331 line on the finish of June all the way down to .241/.302/.305 earlier than the beginning of play on Sunday.
“You already know, he began off rather well, hitting the ball,” Martinez mentioned. “We knew that he’s a man that swings the bat, however he will get on base, and he hits the ball onerous, and I do know, if you happen to have a look at all of his at-bats, he’s had some tough luck. He’s hit some balls onerous.
“He’s struggled as of late, however you understand he’s a man that we depend on to sort of get on base for us nonetheless, so he’s not your typical leadoff man, however he’s a switch-hitter that may put the ball in play.”
Martinez mentioned Hernández was working to show issues round and talked about changes the membership needed to see.
“For me, it’s preparing on time. Staying on prime of the baseball, and being early. He’s been late quite a bit, and he’s been getting beneath the baseball, so we’re attempting to get him on time, attempting to get him to remain again, you understand, right here’s a man that we all know he’s hit a bunch of residence runs final 12 months. He hasn’t hit any this 12 months, and I feel it’s getting it just a little irritating for him, however I informed him, I mentioned, ‘Hey, look all you are able to do is attempt to hit the ball onerous and we’ll see what occurs from there.”
Whether or not it’s been Keibert Ruiz and Riley Adams, because it was for the primary few months this 12 months, or Ruiz and Tres Barrera, who’re dealing with the Nationals’ catching duties proper now, it’s not the way in which issues had been in earlier seasons when Washington relied on veteran backstops like Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes to deal with many of the work behind the plate. So how does the Nats’ skipper assess the job his younger catchers have finished up to now in 2022?
“It’s been good,” he mentioned on Saturday. “Cause being that we nonetheless have [Catching & Strategy Coach] Henry [Blanco] right here, proper? Henry has been so good with these guys and instructing them to game-call and what to search for, and preparation, all that stuff, Henry is on prime of these guys each single day, so between him, [Bullpen Coach] Ricky [Bones], [Pitching Coach] Jim Hickey, as a result of they’re additionally concerned not solely with the pitching, however the catching as nicely, so these guys want to soak up every part they inform them, as a result of there’s a world of information with these guys, having them right here, and having them train them the sport the way in which it’s imagined to be performed and the way in which they’re imagined to be catching, and each pitcher is completely different, proper? Each pitcher shouldn’t be the identical, so that they’re studying, they’re studying quite a bit, they’re studying on the fly, we’ve had a number of pitchers come out and in they usually’ve obtained to be taught these guys immediately, however they’ve been doing rather well.”
Martinez mentioned the connection between Ruiz and Blanco has been a extremely essential one within the catcher’s improvement.
“He’s been actually good,” the supervisor mentioned.
“It’s virtually like they’ve obtained a father/son relationship, as a result of Henry will get on him, and Keibert shouldn’t be afraid to provide again neither, so it has been fairly cool to look at these two guys work collectively, however Henry, like I mentioned, he desires these guys to achieve success. He doesn’t attempt to make them a clone of him, he tries to take whoever they’re and make them higher at what they’re, so it’s been a extremely good relationship between these guys.”