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LaRoche wins first Gold Glove

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LaRoche wins first Gold Glove

The best offensive season of Adam LaRoche's career may actually have helped the Nationals first baseman be recognized at long last for his fielding prowess.

LaRoche won his first-ever Rawlings Gold Glove award tonight, selected as the best defensive first baseman in the National League in voting among managers and coaches.

LaRoche has long been considered stellar in the field, but the 32-year-old had never been recognized for it, losing out in previous Gold Glove selections to the likes of Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez and Derrek Lee.

The NL's managers and coaches finally gave LaRoche his due this year, citing his .995 fielding percentage and ability to snatch up<!-- more --> errant throws that saved his infield mates from being charged with errors.

It probably didn't hurt that LaRoche enjoyed the best offensive season of his career -- he clubbed 33 homers with 100 RBI and a .271 batting average -- while playing for a first-place team, raising his profile among the rest of the league.

LaRoche was selected over two other finalists at first base: the Reds' Joey Votto (last year's winner) and the Braves' Freddie Freeman.

Now a free agent, LaRoche hopes to sign a long-term deal to stay with the Nationals. The two sides hold an exclusive negotiating window until Saturday, at which point LaRoche is free to talk to other clubs. He's believed to be seeking a three-year contract worth somewhere in the range of $33 million to $36 million.

Though teammate Ian Desmond also was a finalist to win his first Gold Glove award, the Nationals shortstop lost out to the Phillies' Jimmy Rollins (who won for the fourth time in six years).

Desmond, 27, enjoyed a breakthrough season at the plate and in the field, earning his first All-Star selection in the process. After committing a MLB-high 34 errors in 2010, he cleaned up his defensive game and brought that number down to 23 in 2011 and 15 this season.

Rollins committed the fewest errors (13) and had the best fielding percentage (.978) among qualifying NL shortstops.

LaRoche joins Ryan Zimmerman (2009) as the only Gold Glove award winners in Nationals history.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.