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What's Juan Soto's goal in spring training? Just 'to make the team'

What's Juan Soto's goal in spring training? Just 'to make the team'

Nationals outfielder Juan Soto just turned 21-years-old this past October, but he's already one of the brightest stars in the league.

But as the left fielder enters spring training, his goal remains the same as it was just two years ago, when he began the 2018 season in Single-A ball.

"Right now, it's the same mentality; you got to make the team," Soto said. "I [came] here to make the team. I'm going to fight for my place, keep working hard, keep playing baseball the right way.

"I'm going to fight for my place, keep working hard, keep playing baseball the right way," he continued. "There are a lot of new players, a lot of new outfielders. You don't want to get comfortable. You want to keep going. I come here to play for one spot, and that's why I'm here."

Soto, of course, has firmly cemented his place in the middle of the Nationals lineup. He finished third in gold glove voting at his position a year ago. The 21-year-old is certainly not afraid of the big moment, as seen by his clutch three-RBI single in the NL Wild Card game or his multiple World Series home runs off Gerrit Cole.

A year ago, Soto slashed .282/.401/.538 with 34 home runs and 110 RBIs. With the departure of third baseman Anthony Rendon, the Nationals are counting on even more out of their left fielder, who's become the most feared hitter in Washington's lineup.

But for now, in mid-February? Soto is just focusing on the fundamentals.

"This year, I come to work on my swing, my defense, running bases, everything," he said. "Everything is going to help the team win."

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On this date: The Nationals played their first game ever

On this date: The Nationals played their first game ever

It seems like eons ago that the Washington Nationals played in their first game after departing from Montreal.

Saturday marks the 15th anniversary of their inaugural game as they brought professional baseball back to the District of Columbia.

The Nationals opened up the 2005 season on the road at Citizens Bank Park with a matchup against their future rival in the Phillies.

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The game didn't go as planned for Nats manager Frank Robinson, with his squad dropping the first game of their 162-game slate with a defeat, but it was a return to normalcy for baseball fans in the nation's capital who had longed for a team to root for since the Senators left town 34 years prior.

The Phillies beat the Nats 8-4 on Opening Day, but for fans in the District, there was now a team to cheer on when they returned home a few days later for the home opener at RFK Stadium.

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Nats GM Mike Rizzo displays Commissioner's Trophy in neighborhood during quarantine

Nats GM Mike Rizzo displays Commissioner's Trophy in neighborhood during quarantine

Now this is the type of content we love to see. 

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo found a pretty cool yet responsible way to bring some cheer to his neighborhood in the midst of social distancing on Thursday. 

On the day that should have been the Nats’ 2020 home opener Washington’s GM Mike Rizzo displayed the World Series trophy in the window of his home in Navy Yard.

According to The Washington Post’s reporter Barry Svrluga, Rizzo’s gesture was “in honor of Opening Day!” 

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Of course, fans loved this idea. I mean who wouldn’t? 

Fans passing by even stopped to take a picture with the trophy. 

Although we were all thrilled to return to Nationals Park to celebrate the defending World Champions, Rizzo’s trophy display was a way to spread some joy until we can reunite again. 

On a recent conference call Rizzo told reporters, “This is going to be a very, very special Opening Day for us when it happens, so we still have that to look forward to... On the brighter side, the glass half full view is that we’re the reigning world champions and we still are clutching hard to that trophy. We’ve got ourselves a banner-raising ceremony coming, we’ve got ourselves some beautiful rings that we’re going to be able to wear around D.C. in the very near future, so although we’re thinking daily and hourly about the humanity of what’s going on right now, we also have that to look forward to when we get through this thing and we come out the other side and baseball begins again.”

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