Think Soto's out of the lineup? Think again! Yanks star springs into action

Slugger talks his way into lineup at last minute, reaches base three times in New York's romp

June 30th, 2024

TORONTO -- The Yankees delayed announcing their lineup on Sunday in hopes that would be able to play in their series finale against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, two days after injuring his right hand on a slide into home plate.

The club issued an initial lineup without Soto, then rushed minutes before the first pitch by announcing a new batting order with Soto batting second and playing right field. Soto ripped a 106.5 mph single in his first at-bat, then scored on Aaron Judge's 31st homer of the season, reaching base three times in the Yankees’ 8-1 victory.

“We went through a lot of exercises and treatments before the game,” Soto said. “As I started hitting in the cage, it started getting better and better.”

At that point, Soto entered manager Aaron Boone’s office, asking: “Is it too late to get back in there?”

“I’m like, ‘No, I don’t think so,’” Boone said. “I just wanted to make sure we’re good with the trainers and everyone. They said he looked really good hitting right now, no issues. We kind of scrambled and switched it up. He obviously played a big part in getting us going there.”

Toronto manager John Schneider said that he received a text message from Boone at 1:19 p.m. ET, alerting the Jays to the lineup change. Schneider said that he didn’t believe it affected right-hander Kevin Gausman’s preparation, but, “It was the latest we’ve seen so far.”

As he spoke with reporters on Sunday morning, Soto recounted how he had already sought treatment on his throbbing right hand when he stepped to home plate in the sixth inning on Friday evening, having injured it during a slide two innings earlier.

Given those circumstances, how had Soto been able to crush a three-run homer off left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, giving the Yankees the lead in their eventual 16-5 victory over the Blue Jays?

“You just forget about the hand and worry about the pitcher. That’s what you’ve got to do,” Soto said. “When you’re in there and your blood is going, everything is going, you just forget about everything. You just try to compete and try to win the game for your team.”

Soto completed the rest of that game, but he reported pain and weakness during a batting-practice session on Saturday, prompting the Yankees to scratch him from their lineup approximately 20 minutes before the scheduled first pitch. X-rays taken at Rogers Centre were negative.

“It was a big pain in my hand,” Soto said. “It really feels even a little weak whenever I swung. It was just a different feeling. I couldn’t even hold the bat. I kept swinging and I started changing my swing, so I stopped and I just couldn’t do it.”

Soto said there is still swelling in the hand, and it bothered him while playing defense on Sunday. He still may undergo an MRI or CT scan on Monday in New York.

“I’ve got to talk to the doctor when we get back to New York, and we’re going to see what we’re going to do,” Soto said. “There’s still a little swelling in there, but I think it was in a spot that I could help my team.”

The injury occurred Friday as Soto slid home safely on J.D. Davis’ fourth-inning RBI double; though Soto touched the plate with his left hand, he rolled over on his right after scoring.

“I felt it right away,” Soto said. “I told the trainers and they were checking me out. I told them, ‘It’s probably going to take a minute to go away.’ But it kept being there. They wrapped it up in the middle of the game and put a couple of things to help me out with the pain. I just played through it.”

This is the second injury concern of the month for Soto, who missed three games against the Dodgers from June 7-9 with discomfort in his left forearm. Soto played all 162 games for the Padres last season.

“It’s really frustrating,” Soto said. “You want to be in the lineup every day to help the team to win ballgames. For me, the most important thing is to be on that field, no matter what. But it’s tough. It’s part of the game, too. At the end of the day, that’s why people say it’s really hard to play 162. You’ve got to go through a lot of things throughout the year.”