Nationals put Juan Soto on IL with strained left shoulder

Sports
Juan Soto, Paul DeJong

Washington Nationals’ Juan Soto (22) is safe a second base with double ahead of the tag by St Louis Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong (11) during the seventh inning of a baseball game at Nationals Park, Monday, April 19, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Nationals right fielder Juan Soto went on the 10-day injured list with a strained left shoulder on Tuesday, the latest setback for the 2019 World Series champions.

“We thought, ‘Hey, we’re not going to take any chances with him,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “We’ll try to get him right as quick as possible.”

Martinez said Soto had been dealing with an issue in recent days, complaining about a tight triceps and soreness.

The team decided to have the 2020 NL batting champion get an MRI exam Tuesday morning. The decision to sideline Soto came less than an hour before Washington’s 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night began.

“For me and (general manager Mike Rizzo), it was a no-brainer to put him on the IL and get him right,” Martinez said.

He said he was not sure how Soto injured himself.

Also unknown at this point: Exactly how long Soto will be out.

“Honestly,” Martinez said, “I couldn’t tell you.”

If the 22-year-old slugger is able to return on the first day allowed, April 30, that would mean missing just seven games, because Washington has a few days off coming up on its schedule.

“Hopefully,” said shortstop Trea Turner, who usually bats in front of Soto, “we can play well and kind of survive without him.”

Soto originally was listed in Washington’s starting lineup on Tuesday. But less than an hour before the game’s scheduled first pitch, the Nationals tweeted about the move.

“We’re going to try and get him ready as quick as possible,” Martinez said. “When we deem him ready, he’ll be back in the lineup.”

The club also said that outfielder Yadiel Hernandez was being recalled from its alternate training site.

Soto is batting .300 with two homers and eight RBIs this season. He led the NL in OPS in addition to average a year ago and finished fifth in the league’s MVP voting.

“It’s huge,” Martinez said. “He’s a huge part of our lineup.”

Andrew Stevenson took Soto’s spot in right field Tuesday.

The Nationals began the day in last place in the NL East with a 5-9 record, thanks in large part to problems with their starting rotation.

Stephen Strasburg is on the IL with right shoulder inflammation, Jon Lester began the season on the COVID-19 injured list and has yet to make his Nationals debut, and Max Scherzer is 0-1 heading into his scheduled start Wednesday against the visiting Cardinals.

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