Juan Soto makes his San Diego Padres debut


SAN DIEGO — Juan Soto sat in a rolling chair with a San Diego Padres emblem on it and held up his leg, excessive sufficient that Fernando Tatis Jr. may see his red-and-white cleats from his chair just a few lockers away.

“Look at these!” Soto mentioned Wednesday, and Tatis chuckled on the mixture of the crimson and white with Soto’s contemporary brown socks. Brown-and-gold cleats are anticipated quickly. But the primary day of the remainder of Juan Soto’s profession would come with a reminder of all these different days spent in Washington, a baseball world away.

“I never thought they would do it. I was thinking they would try to keep me and try to rebuild the team with me in it. It caught me by surprise,” Soto mentioned within the Padres’ clubhouse as he laced up the opposite cleat. The New York Mets were beating up on the Nationals on a tv hanging just a few yards away. “Deep in my heart, I was thinking they wouldn’t do it.”

That Soto discovered himself there, joking with good friend and fellow younger famous person Tatis, introducing himself to infielder Ha-Seong Kim with a “good to meet you” and speaking Max Scherzer’s repertoire with catcher Austin Nola, is a transformative growth for the workforce he left and the workforce he joined. It might show transformative for Soto and Josh Bell, too.

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Not 24 hours after they boarded a San Diego-bound private plane paid for by the Padres, Soto and Bell discovered themselves sandwiching famous person Manny Machado in a contending workforce’s lineup underneath the California solar.

“Go from a team that has no chance to come all the way here, it’s a great feeling,” Soto mentioned. “It’s a new start for me. This year, it’s just a new start, a new feeling to go out there and give more that I have.”

Before both may fear about going on the market in any respect, each have been shuttled via Petco Park for social media shoots and introductory interviews, sitting alongside General Manager A.J. Preller and proprietor Peter Seidler.

Preller launched Soto with a narrative in regards to the time a Padres assistant common supervisor realized the younger star was hitting in Point Loma, not far-off. He had flown there after his profitable rookie season to work with a hitting coach, “working on his craft,” Preller mentioned. Preller remembered the workforce’s pursuit of Soto when he was an adolescent within the Dominican Republic — a pursuit that ended, he joked, with Preller score another person forward of him. But Preller pointed to that January hitting session as a second when he determined his workforce would do its finest to get him if it may.

Analysis: Padres GM A.J. Preller, master of the big swing, just took his biggest swing yet

The GM additionally joked that Bell — the slugging swap hitter with an .877 on-base-plus-slugging share getting into Wednesday — was “not bad for a throw-in” earlier than clarifying that Bell was far more than that. From then on, Soto’s smile stole the afternoon. He flashed it when requested in regards to the Padres’ lineup, which continues to be ready for Tatis to return again from damage and nonetheless ready for Machado to get scorching once more.

“I wish good luck to the other pitchers,” Soto mentioned with a chuckle.

He flashed it once more when he defined that pitcher Nick Martinez, who wore No. 22 with the Padres till just a few hours in the past, requested him for a fishing boat in trade for the quantity.

“He really surprised me. I had never seen something like that. I’d seen a couple guys trying to get numbers and what they had given away. But when he asked me for a boat, I was really shocked and surprised,” Soto mentioned. “I thought that was kind of too much, but I tried to explain to him I will try to get him a really nice watch and he accepted.”

The implications of Soto discovering himself on this lineup after a calendar yr of being the first focus of each opponent’s recreation plan may lengthen a lot additional than just a few extra smiles. His new supervisor, Bob Melvin, mentioned he isn’t optimistic what order he’ll hit Soto, Machado and Bell — however he did anticipate Soto and Bell to really feel a distinction instantly, not merely due to the bats round them but in addition due to the power of Petco Park.

“I am going to keep taking my walks. I won’t try to be a superhero,” Soto mentioned. “But definitely it’s going to be more exciting. It’s going to be more opportunities to bring guys home. I’ll have more chances to win games.”

An individual near Soto mentioned he was rising demoralized at occasions with the Nationals, anxious {that a} irritating first half (he was hitting .246 on the time of the commerce — practically 50 factors shy of his profession common) would solely get extra irritating if Washington traded away everybody else however stored him. After the commerce, he expressed his pleasure in regards to the probability to play “real baseball” once more, that particular person mentioned.

Soto’s swagger by no means precisely wavered. But right here, with expertise and power round him once more, it simply would possibly soar.

“We talked about it when I was talking to these guys: They’re going to feel the excitement in this ballpark,” Melvin mentioned. “It’s always exciting, but it’s probably going to be taken to another level today. We’ll all feel that.”

Could the Nats have avoided trading Juan Soto? Your questions, answered.

Soto has by no means performed for a serious league supervisor not named Dave Martinez, and he’ll discover that, too. He admitted that saying goodbye to Martinez simply earlier than he left Nationals Park on Tuesday was one of many hardest elements of an extended day that started with him waking as much as a name from agent Scott Boras telling him a commerce was prone to occur this time. Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo known as him, too, telling him nothing was official however one thing was within the works. He mentioned he was nonetheless shocked when it occurred, regardless that Boras had defined to him the rationale for a deal, regardless that he had come to know over the previous few months that nobody is proof against the enterprise of baseball.

“I have no hard feelings to those guys. I still feel good about what they did for me. That’s the first team, my first team, the team that make me a professional player,” Soto mentioned. “They gave me the chance to come to the big leagues. They made me a big leaguer. I’m always going to be thankful for that. No hard feelings for all this.”

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Soto hopes some brown-and-gold cleats will arrive quickly. In the meantime, he pounded across the clubhouse in these red-and-white ones, shaking palms with new teammates. At one level he paused and look to his proper, noticing Bell’s new locker throughout the clubhouse.

“JB!” he mentioned as he walked by, taking a barely extra circuitous route again to his personal locker than he most likely will per week from now.

When he ran onto the Petco Park area for the primary time, he pointed to the followers within the stands as he used to at Nationals Park. He appeared somewhat hesitant. So did they. But 4 pitches into his Padres profession, he was safely on first base. Five batters into his Padres profession, he had scored a run. After all, for Soto, house is a serious league batter’s field, no matter colour his cleats are as they shuffle via the grime.

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