Soto returns to Nationals’ lineup after knee injury scare

Juan Soto

Juan Soto will start in right field and bat third for the Nationals in their series opener against the New York Mets on Tuesday. The 22-year-old was hindered by a knee injury over the weekend, making just two pinch-hitting appearances in Washington’s three-game set with the Atlanta Braves.

The Nationals held Soto out of the lineup Friday after he felt some pain in his right knee while scoring a run against the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday. He underwent an MRI that came back negative and spent the weekend doing agility drills to test out the joint. After speaking with manager Davey Martinez before Tuesday’s game, Soto got the go-ahead to return.

“I talked to him, he said he felt pretty good and he felt like he could play today so he went through his routine,” Martinez said. “He’s gonna go out and take batting practice but he says he feels pretty good so he’s in there today.”

Soto has been on a tear so far in the second half. He’s hitting .357 with seven home runs in 70 at-bats since the All-Star Break. The Nationals’ young phenom enters play Tuesday leading the majors with a .427 on-base percentage while ranking 11th in OPS at .925.

Martinez plans to monitor Soto’s knee during Tuesday’s game to ensure no issues pop up.

“I’m gonna keep an eye on him if he gets on base as it’s kind of the stop and go,” Martinez said. “That’s when he felt it, the secondary lead. So I’ll keep an eye on him but he ran better today. He said he wanted to play so, like I said, I’ll monitor him and I’ll watch him and we’ll see where he’s at.”