Juan Soto (back) scratched from Nats' lineup

May 2nd, 2019

WASHINGTON -- Nationals left fielder Juan Soto was a late scratch from the lineup after he started experiencing back spasms prior to Wednesday’s 5-1 loss to the Cardinals. Soto had been in the initial lineup batting third and playing left field before the team made the announcement about an hour prior to first pitch.

It’s the first time Soto has complained of the back issue, according to manager Dave Martinez, who said he did not want to take any chances with his star 20-year-old. The Nats will re-elevate Soto on Thursday.

“He was getting ready for the game, taking swings, and he felt it,” Martinez said after the game. “Couldn’t get it to go away before the game, so as the game progressed it got better, but we weren’t going to let him hit or do anything today after that.”

Adam Eaton shifted to left field and Victor Robles to right field in Soto’s absence with Michael A. Taylor starting in center field.

Washington is already missing three key members of its starting lineup, with third baseman Anthony Rendon (left elbow), shortstop Trea Turner (right index finger) and Ryan Zimmerman (right foot) all on the injured list, and their offense has seen a slight dip in recent weeks. They have scored three runs or less in 9 of their last 16 games, so they cannot afford an extended absence from Soto, who has started in each of the team’s first 28 games.

In his sophomore season in D.C., Soto is batting .248/.368/.467 with six home runs and a 122 wRC+ and has reached base safely in 15 consecutive games. The numbers are a slight dip from Soto's historic rookie season, but still solid considering he is also adjusting to seeing so few fastballs (entering Wednesday Soto had faced fastballs just 46.9 percent of the time, the fourth fewest in the Majors).