Mon, 26 Sep 2022

Padres' Juan Soto receives cheers in return to Washington

Field Level Media
13 Aug 2022, 11:40 GMT+10

The fans of the Washington Nationals made it clear what they think about Juan Soto as he strode to the plate in the first inning on Friday night.

It didn't matter that Soto now is a member of the San Diego Padres. They cheered loudly and proudly and Soto tipped his helmet and acknowledged the rousing ovation.

It was Soto's first at-bat in Nationals Park as a visiting player -- he fouled out to left -- after being traded by the Nationals to the Padres on Aug. 2.

The fans remembered Soto's contributions to Washington's World Series title team in 2019 and his everyday hustle and joyful attitude.

"I gave them 100 percent when I was here, and I hope they enjoyed it," Soto said prior to the contest. "At the end of the day, I'm going to be the same guy."

Soto was traded to San Diego shortly after it came out that he turned down a 15-year, $440 million contract. He said he harbors no ill will against Nationals' management.

"It was tough, but at the end of the day I understand it's a business," Soto said. "They did the best thing for them and I'm happy, no hard feelings."

Soto also was retired in his second at-bat before he doubled and singled in San Diego's seven-run fifth inning.

During batting practice, Soto routinely pointed to and waved at Washington fans wearing his No. 22 jersey.

Soto, who reached the majors at age 19 in 2018 with the Nationals, said he is now at the point where he has a comfort level regarding the attention and notoriety.

"I think people know me more now," Soto said. "All the transitions, it's just the same thing. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how big I am or how much the people know me. Anywhere I'm going, I'm going to be 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 transitions aren't that bad. I've just been pretty cool with it, and still being the same Juan."

Soto entered the game with a .254 batting average, 22 homers and 47 RBIs in 109 total games this year. He was 10-for-28 (.357) with one homer and one RBI in his first eight games with San Diego.

Washington received first baseman Luke Voit, left-hander MacKenzie Gore, shortstop C.J. Abrams and minor league outfielders Robert Hassell III and James Wood and minor league right-hander Jarlin Susana in the deal. The Padres also obtained first baseman Josh Bell.

--Field Level Media

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