WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) — As Juan Soto started walking for the visitors’ clubhouse in National Park for the first time as an opposing player on Friday, he passed pictures hanging on either side of the tunnel, showing Washington’s past players. Visible – a gallery that already includes an image of him, smiling in a blue jersey with the red number 22.
He then ran into reliever Sean Doolittle, a member of Washington’s 2019 World Series-winning teammate, and they hugged and laughed before ducking into Soto’s San Diego Padres clubhouse.
The Nations sold their homegrown, 23-year-old star to the Padres on August 2, a move that would have been shocking a year or even a month ago. But not much has gone right for Washington since the 2019 title, with Soto unlikely to sign a long-term deal and general manager Mike Rizzo to swap him and first baseman Josh Bell for San Diego’s top prospects. inspired to.
Ten days later, Soto was back—and a little surprised by the crowd of reporters who formed a tight horseshoe around him in the Padres dugout before the game.
“I had no idea so many people (were) going to be around me,” Soto said. “I know it’s the media and all, but it feels weird.”
Soto was struck by the oddity of returning to Washington so soon after the trade. He realized that his return trip was less than two weeks away and told teammates, “It’s not a goodbye, see you later.”
He said fitting in with the Padres has been “amazing” and an easy transition.
Soto made his debut on May 20, 2018 at the age of 19, and has grown from a charming teen to a world series champion to a future free agent whom the Nationals felt they couldn’t afford. . His potential destination was the major storyline in baseball before the trade deadline.
“I think people know me more now,” Soto said. “All transitions, it’s the same thing. In the end, it doesn’t matter how big I am or how much people know me. I’m still going to be the same guy. Wherever I go, I’m the same Juan Soto So for me, for my family, for my friends, for my teammates, I’m going to be the same guy every day. So the transition isn’t that bad. I’ve been pretty good with it, And I’m still the same Juan.”
Fans in the Soto jersey watched him practice batting in a brown long-sleeved shirt and high brown socks. Soto wasn’t sure what kind of reception he would get once the games started. He usually ran in right field and pointed two index fingers at his enthusiastic fans.
But he is proud of what he achieved in Washington, where he became one of baseball’s best hitters and most popular players.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do,” Soto said. “I don’t know if they’re going to do it for me or anything like that. But all I know is that whenever I was in that clubhouse and with that team, I gave my 100 percent. Every day they ground me But he saw me coming, he saw 100 percent of me. I don’t know how he would react. But for me, I gave all that I had.”
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