Juan Soto to make 2020 debut for Nationals, batting cleanup

WASHINGTON (AP) — Juan Soto was set to make his 2020 debut for the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night against the New York Mets, starting in left field and batting cleanup after beginning the season on the COVID-19 injured list.

The slugger failed a coronavirus test — he later said he thought it was a false positive — and went on the injured list on opening day July 23.

He missed Washington’s first eight games of the truncated season. Soto was reinstated from the IL on Tuesday, but didn't play in a 5-3 victory over the Mets, instead hopping atop the dugout to celebrate homers by teammates Howie Kendrick and Josh Harrison.

“I talked to him last night. He did everything yesterday and he felt good. He said he’s ready,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said Wednesday. “He took a bunch of swings yesterday, I know. He ran. He did some outfield work. He said he feels like he can go out there.”

Soto produced 34 homers and 110 RBIs in the 2019 regular season and helped the Nationals win their first World Series championship.

Martinez also said World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg would throw about 45 to 50 pitches in a simulated game Wednesday afternoon, which would help the team decide when the right-hander can make his 2020 debut.

Strasburg missed his first two starts because of a nerve issue in his throwing hand.

"If he feels up to it, we’ll get him back in the rotation,” Martinez said. “Today will determine that.”

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