Washington Nationals news and notes: Davey Martinez on Juan Soto handling all the drama; César Hernández in pursuit of the 1st HR of 2022…

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Juan Soto’s drama continues:

Juan Soto reportedly turned down a 15-year/$440 million extension offer from Washington sparked a firestorm of stories about the Nationals now considering trading their 23-year-old for major league-ready prospects and talent, with two and a half years left before he becomes a free agent. Nats general manager Mike Rizzo made it clear in early June that the club would not trade the right outfielder to DC, but if the latest reports are to be believed, the front office in the nation’s capital may have changed. of opinion with all that is since the first report of the refusal of the last offer (and fired by de Soto’s agent, Scott Boras).

Soto, who was peppered with questions about his future during last Monday’s All-Star media availability in Los Angeles, faced even more questions after winning the HR Derby, and he handled it all as well as scheduled, telling reporters he was going to let his agent answer questions about his contract status while he remained focused on the game.

“I just let my agent do whatever he needs to do. Any conversations they have, they’re going to have with him. I’m just gonna be here to play baseball. I’m just going to go to Nationals Park and give my one hundred percent every day,” Soto said.

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Before Sunday’s game at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, where Washington opened the second half of the 2022 campaign, manager Davey Martinez checked with his slugger to make sure his header was in the right place before the deadline. exchanges on August 2. .

“I love talking to him, especially around this time of year, with everything that’s going on and making sure he’s engaged and relaxed and getting out there and playing baseball,” Martinez explained, noting that It was just a general conversation.

The fifth-year manager said he thought Soto performed well in Los Angeles and took it all in stride as things improved for him on the pitch after a sluggishness (by its own high standards) start at the plate this season.

“He’s good,” Martinez told reporters. “Yesterday was a perfect example: he was rooting for his teammates the whole game, and cheering them on and everything, just I know for a young player in that situation it can be tough, and I just want to make sure that, ‘Hey , you can only control what you can control, so go ahead and keep playing hard and do what you can to help us win.

“As I’ve said before, to me, this is a Washington National. That’s how I see it, and that’s how I will see it until it’s otherwise. But I love him. And like I said, he’s one of the best young hitters in the game,” the skipper added at another point.

“It’s a testament to who he is,” Martinez said of how Soto has performed over the past few weeks, “because we were at the All-Star Game and all these rumbles came out and like you can see, he handled it professionally, and he went out and did what he had to do, he entered the HR Derby and won through it all, so he got it and I know that’s – sometimes as a player you wonder what’s next, but he actually – he’s focused on staying in the moment, and that’s the most important thing that I try telling him, it’s just to be here now, and don’t worry about anything else, and get ready to play the game today.

Hernández still looking for the number 1 of 2022:

At this point last season (July 24), César Hernández had 16 homers in 93 games and 408 plate appearances, but came on Sunday this year without a homer in his 95 games and 412 AP, which his manager, Davey Martinez, said he’s worried about really weighing in on the infielder, who signed a 1-year/$4 million free agent contract with the Nationals last winter.

“Yeah, I’m a little worried,” Martinez admitted. “Sometimes I hear rumblings of him saying if he hit the ball hard he thought maybe the ball should have gone out, and I said, ‘Well, whatever you can do, that’s is hitting the ball hard. Don’t worry about hitting home runs. For him, if he can just focus on staying in the middle of the field, he’ll hit doubles, you know, so for me that’s key, just stay in the middle of the field and just try to drive the baseball .”

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Hernández entered the All-Star break in an offensive slump, and with a .127/.203/.175 line in 18 games played this month, he had gone from .264/.322/.331 line to the end of June at .241/.302/.305 before the start of play on Sunday.

“You know, he started really well, hitting the ball,” Martinez said. “We knew he’s a guy who swings the bat, but he gets on base and he hits the ball hard, and I know, if you look at all his at-bats, he’s had some bad luck. He hit balls hard.

“He’s been struggling lately, but you know he’s a guy we rely on to kind of stay on base for us, so he’s not your typical first guy, but he’s a batter who can put the ball in play.”

Martinez said Hernández was working to turn things around and spoke about the adjustments the club wanted to see.

“For me, it’s getting ready on time. Stay on top of baseball and be ahead. He’s been late a lot, and he’s gotten under baseball, so we’re trying to get him on time, trying to get him to stay back, you know, here’s a guy we know has hit a bunch of home runs in the last year. He hasn’t hit any this year, and I think it’s getting a little frustrating for him, but I told him, I told him, ‘Hey, look, all you can do is try to hit the ball hard and we’ll see what happens from there.

Capture body:

Whether it’s Keibert Ruiz and Riley Adams, as was the case for the first few months of this year, or Ruiz and Tres Barrera, who are currently handling Nationals catching duties, this is no isn’t how things were in previous seasons when Washington relied on veteran backers like Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes to handle most of the work behind the plate. So how does the Nats skipper rate the work his young receivers have done so far in 2022?

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“It was good,” he said on Saturday. “The reason being that we still have [Catching & Strategy Coach] Henry [Blanco] here no? Henry has been so good with these guys and teaching them how to call the game and what to look for, and preparation, all that, Henry is on top of these guys everyday, so between him, [Bullpen Coach] Ricky [Bones], [Pitching Coach] Jim Hickey, because they’re also involved in not just throwing but also catching, so these guys have to absorb everything they’re told, because there’s a world of knowledge with these guys, the have here and have them teach them the game the way it’s supposed to be played and how they’re supposed to catch, and every pitcher is different, right? Every pitcher isn’t the same so they learn, they learn a lot, they learn on the fly, we’ve had a lot of pitchers coming in and out and they have to learn these guys properly away, but they’re doing really well .

Martinez said the relationship between Ruiz and Blanco was very important in the development of the receiver.

“He’s been really good,” the manager said.

“It’s almost like they have a father/son relationship, because Henry takes it out on him, and Keibert isn’t afraid to give back either, so it was pretty cool to see these two guys work together, but Henry, like I said, he wants these guys to succeed. He’s not trying to make them a clone of himself, he’s trying to take who they are and make them better at what they are. they are, so it’s been a really good relationship between those guys.

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