NEW YORK -- On the morning of the 99th day since Juan Soto (Juanjo) joined the Nationals, manager Dave Martinez told his 19-year-old outfielder he was thinking about giving him a day off."Nooooo," Soto responded, as Martinez relayed the story Sunday.:: Players' Weekend presented by Valspar Stain ::So on Sunday,
NEW YORK -- On the morning of the 99th day since Juan Soto (Juanjo) joined the Nationals, manager Dave Martinez told his 19-year-old outfielder he was thinking about giving him a day off.
"Nooooo," Soto responded, as Martinez relayed the story Sunday.
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So on Sunday, Soto was in the Nationals' lineup again, for the 46th consecutive game. Even though he began the season at Class A Hagerstown and stopped at Class A Advanced Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg before his May 20 callup to the Major Leagues, Soto has started more games (83) than all but four Nationals.
As Martinez says, it's hard to take the kid out of the lineup.
Counting his time in the Minor Leagues, Soto has already played 125 games this season, after injuries limited him to just 83 in his first two Minor League seasons combined. The expanded workload has the Nationals watching him closely, but Martinez said he hasn't yet seen signs that Soto is wearing down.
While Soto was hitting just .228 in August entering play Sunday, he had still walked 20 times in 100 plate appearances. Martinez saw that as a good sign his young outfielder is still mentally engaged at the plate.
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"If he starts swinging at pitches all over the place," Martinez said, suggesting one sign the Nationals could see that Soto needed a break.
"Playing every day is tough, no matter how old you are," said Ryan Zimmerman (Zim), who played in all 162 games in 2007, when he was 22. "There's a lot of days you don't feel good. What Juan has done is impressive. He's so much fun to watch."
The Nationals clearly weren't happy with two of the pitches Mets starter Zack Wheeler (Wheels) threw to Adam Eaton (Spanky) in Saturday's game. Wheeler came up and in with a 2-0 pitch in the third inning and hit Eaton in the butt with a pitch in the eighth. The Nationals believed both pitches were intentional, a reaction to the Eaton slide that left Mets infielder Phillip Evans with a broken leg Aug. 1 at Nationals Park.
The Nationals believed the Eaton slide was a perfectly legal play, and MLB agreed with them.
Despite their anger, Martinez said he didn't want his pitchers to retaliate by hitting a Mets player.
"'I'll never tell a pitcher to hit somebody," he said. "Never. I've been hit plenty of times in my career. I'd get to first base, try to steal second and third and score."
Martinez was more upset with the pitch that missed Eaton than the one that hit him.
"I had a problem with it being close to the head," he said. "If he'd gotten hit [with that pitch], I guarantee things would have gotten ugly. Don't come close to someone's head."
Decision coming on Madson
Reliever Ryan Madson (Blest) was set to throw a bullpen session Sunday, and Martinez said the Nationals would discuss on Monday in Philadelphia whether to activate Madson from the disabled list. Madson has been out with lumbar nerve root irritation.
Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.