Soto: 'It’s going to be fun' to face Scherzer

April 6th, 2022

WASHINGTON -- For the first four seasons of his Major League career, Juan Soto looked on from the outfield as Max Scherzer dominated in the same uniform. On Friday night, the All-Star slugger will see the three-time Cy Young Award winner from a new vantage point -- the batter’s box -- when the Nationals host the Mets in Scherzer’s return to Washington.

“It’s going to be fun,” Soto said on Wednesday afternoon following a team workout.

After six-plus seasons with the Nats, Scherzer arrived at Nationals Park on Wednesday and went to the visitors’ clubhouse for the first time since being traded to the Dodgers in a blockbuster deal in July 2021. The right-hander is scheduled to start Game 2 of the season after recovering from right hamstring soreness that kept him from taking the ball on Opening Day. The baseball world won’t have to wait long to see the anticipated matchup between these powerhouses -- Soto moved up to the No. 2 spot in the batting order this season.

“Even when he was here, he was talking to me, he was going back and forth, what he’s going to throw me and what he’s going to do,” Soto said. “I know he didn’t give me any of his special things, but I think it’s going to be fun. He’s going to try to strike me out, and I will try my best to not strike out because I know he wants that really bad.”

Soto, 23, considers Scherzer, 37, to be a friend and mentor. After Scherzer was dealt to Los Angeles at last year's Trade Deadline, Soto was one of his biggest supporters at the National League Wild Card Game. He reveres Scherzer for imparting advice -- on and off the field -- and describes him as “a great dude.”

Now that Soto is being turned to as a leader on the Nationals, he is channeling what he learned from Scherzer to step into that role.

“Every time you see him out there, you know he’s giving a hundred percent,” Soto said. “That’s one of the things that he showed me -- that every time you come to the field, you’ve got to give your hundred percent because it doesn't matter if you feel bad, if you’re in pain. If you’re going in the lines, you’ve got to give your hundred percent is one of the things I learned more from him.”