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Werth, Storen near return

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Werth, Storen near return

The Nationals' two biggest roster additions this summer might not come via a blockbuster move at the July 31 trade deadline but rather the pending return of two key players from the disabled list: Jayson Werth and Drew Storen.

Each recovering player is moving closer to a return from the DL. Storen could be activated in time to make his season debut tomorrow afternoon; at the same time Werth could be beginning a minor-league rehab assignment.

Storen sounds ready to face big-league hitters after a dominant, one-inning performance Tuesday night with Class A Potomac. That was his sixth rehab appearance and his most effective (he struck out two of the three Lynchburg batters he faced).

"I feel confident out there and I feel comfortable," he said. "I think that's the main thing. That's what you try to get in spring training. I treated these rehab appearances like they were spring training, and I'm really happy with where I'm at."

Storen, who had surgery in April to remove a bone spur in his elbow, hasn't pitched on back-to-back days yet. But he noted he didn't do that in previous spring trainings and feels confident he'll be able to to perform when called upon now.

"It's one of those things were adrenaline takes over," he said. "I feel physically strong enough to do it. And I've done it before. I feel like I can come back and do it now."

Werth, meanwhile, took a major step forward today when he took a full round of batting practice for the first time since breaking his left wrist on May 6. The veteran outfielder didn't show any rust at all, at one point driving seven consecutive pitches over the fence in either left or center field.

"I was really pleasantly surprised," manager Davey Johnson said. "I didn't think he'd be hitting for another week, and he didn't seem like he felt any discomfort."

Things went so well for Werth that he requested to immediately begin a minor-league rehab assignment tomorrow, and the Nationals might oblige.

"After I saw him hit, I don't see any reason to think differently," Johnson said.

Werth will probably spend considerable time on his rehab assignment, perhaps more than two weeks, as he tries to get his timing down and get his body into game shape. The Nationals still expect him to come off the DL sometime during the first week of August.

"He pretty much knows his body better than anybody," Johnson said. "He knows what he needs to do to come back, and he knows where we're at in a pennant race. He doesn't want to be half-stepping. It'll be entirely up to him and how he's feeling."

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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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.