Nationals

Soto hits IL with shoulder strain as Nats’ injuries pile up

Nationals
Juan Soto
Vin Scully shows off his World Series ring

After originally being listed in the Nationals’ starting lineup for their game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Juan Soto landed on the 10-Day Injured List with a left shoulder strain Tuesday. The club announced that outfielder Yadiel Hernández was called up from the alternate training site in a corresponding move.

Soto, 22, is off to a 15-for-50 (.300) start to the 2021 season with two home runs, eight runs batted in and an .870 OPS. He’s hit either second or third in every one of the Nationals’ games this season, providing one of the club’s few bright spots amid a 5-9 start.

Washington’s lineup will be without its most prolific bat while Soto is out, putting the onus on Trea Turner, Josh Bell and the rest of the Nationals’ hitters to make up for his production.

The injury is only the latest in a series of grim health news for the Nationals. Starter Stephen Strasburg was placed on the IL with shoulder inflammation Sunday, just hours before he was scheduled to start against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In addition, relievers Wander Suero (oblique) and Luis Avilán (torn UCL) were taken off the active roster, with the latter electing to undergo Tommy John surgery.

The Nationals’ roster has already been impacted by the coronavirus as well. An outbreak within their clubhouse forced the team to begin the season with nine players missing from its Opening Day roster. Eight of the nine have since returned; starter Jon Lester is the only one left, remaining at the team’s alternate training site in Fredericksburg, Va., to build his arm back up.

 

Losing Soto represents the first major blow to Washington’s offense, which entering play Tuesday has scored the sixth-fewest runs per game this season at 3.64. The Nationals do boast the second-highest team batting average in the NL at .262, but their lack of power (tied for the third-fewest homers in MLB at 13) becomes an even more significant hurdle with the star outfielder on the shelf.