Juan Soto makes his San Diego Padres debut

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SAN DIEGO — Juan Soto sat in a rolling chair with a San Diego Padres brand on it and held up his leg, excessive sufficient that Fernando Tatis Jr. may see his red-and-white cleats from his chair a couple of lockers away.

“Look at these!” Soto stated Wednesday, and Tatis chuckled on the mixture of pink and white with Soto’s recent brown socks. Brown-and-gold cleats are anticipated quickly. But the primary day of the remainder of Juan Soto’s profession would come with a reminder of all these different days spent in Washington, a baseball world away.

“I by no means thought they’d do it. I used to be considering they’d attempt to maintain me and attempt to rebuild the workforce with me in it. It caught me without warning,” Soto stated within the Padres’ clubhouse as he laced up the opposite cleat. The New York Mets had been beating up on the Nationals on a tv hanging a couple of yards away. “Deep in my coronary heart, I used to be considering they would not do it.”

That Soto discovered himself there, joking with pal and fellow younger famous person Tatis, introducing himself to infielder Ha-Seong Kim with a “good to fulfill you” and speaking Max Scherzer’s repertoire with catcher Austin Nola, is a transformative improvement for the workforce he left and the workforce he joined. It might show transformative for Soto and Josh Bell, too.

Nats commerce Juan Soto to Padres, a seismic transfer for the game and franchise

Not 24 hours after they boarded a San Diego-bound personal airplane paid for by the Padres, Soto and Bell discovered themselves sandwiching famous person Manny Machado in a contending workforce’s lineup beneath the California solar.

“Going from a workforce that has no probability to come back all the best way right here, it is an incredible feeling,” Soto stated. “It’s a brand new begin for me. This 12 months, it is only a new begin, a brand new feeling to go on the market and provides extra that I’ve.”

Before both may fear about going on the market in any respect, each had been shuttled via Petco Park for social media shoots and introductory interviews, sitting alongside General Manager AJ Preller and proprietor Peter Seidler.

Preller launched Soto with a narrative concerning the time a Padres assistant common supervisor realized the younger star was hitting in Point Loma, not far-off. He had flown there after his profitable rookie season to work with a hitting coach, “engaged on his craft,” Preller stated. Preller remembered the workforce’s pursuit of Soto when he was a teen within the Dominican Republic — a pursuit that ended, he joked, with Preller score another person forward of him. But Preller pointed to that January hitting session as a second when he determined his workforce would do its greatest to get him if it may.

Analysis: Padres GM AJ Preller, grasp of the massive swing, simply took his greatest swing but

The GM additionally joked that Bell — the slugging change hitter with an .877 on-base-plus-slugging proportion getting into Wednesday — was “not dangerous for a throw-in” earlier than clarifying that Bell was excess of that. From then on, Soto’s smile stole the afternoon. He flashed it when requested concerning the Padres’ lineup, which continues to be ready for Tatis to come back again from harm and nonetheless ready for Machado to get sizzling once more.

“I want good luck to the opposite pitchers,” Soto stated with a chuckle.

He flashed it once more when he defined that pitcher Nick Martinez, who wore No. 22 with the Padres till a couple of hours in the past, requested him for a fishing boat in trade for the quantity.

“He actually shocked me. I had by no means seen something like that. I’d seen a few guys attempting to get numbers and what that they had given away. But when he requested me for a ship, I used to be actually shocked and shocked,” Soto stated. “I believed that was type of an excessive amount of, however I attempted to elucidate to him that I’ll attempt to get him a very nice watch and he accepted.”

The implications of Soto discovering himself on this lineup after a calendar 12 months of being the first focus of each opponent’s sport plan may prolong a lot additional than a couple of extra smiles. His new supervisor, Bob Melvin, stated he is not constructive what order he’ll hit Soto, Machado and Bell — however he did anticipate Soto and Bell to really feel a distinction instantly, not merely due to the bats round them but in addition due to the vitality of Petco Park.

“I’m going to maintain taking my walks. I will not attempt to be a superhero,” Soto stated. “But positively it should be extra thrilling. It’s going to be extra alternatives to convey guys house. I’ll have extra probabilities to win video games.”

An individual near Soto stated he was rising demoralized at instances with the Nationals, nervous {that a} irritating first half (he was hitting .246 on the time of the commerce — almost 50 factors shy of his profession common) would solely get extra irritating if Washington traded away everybody else however stored him. After the commerce, he expressed his pleasure concerning the probability to play “actual baseball” once more, that individual stated.

Soto’s swagger by no means precisely wavered. But right here, with expertise and vitality round him once more, it simply would possibly soar.

“We talked about it after I was speaking to those guys: They’re going to really feel the joy on this ballpark,” Melvin stated. “It’s at all times thrilling, however it’s most likely going to be taken to a different degree at the moment. We’ll all really feel that.”

Could the Nats have averted buying and selling Juan Soto? Your questions, answered.

Soto has by no means performed for a serious league supervisor not named Dave Martinez, and he’ll discover that, too. He admitted that saying goodbye to Martinez simply earlier than he left Nationals Park on Tuesday was one of many hardest components of an extended day that started with him waking as much as a name from agent Scott Boras telling him a commerce was prone to occur this time. Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo referred to as him, too, telling him nothing was official however one thing was within the works. He stated he was nonetheless shocked when it occurred, despite the fact that Boras had defined to him the rationale for a deal, despite the fact that he had come to know over the previous few months that nobody is proof against the enterprise of baseball.

“I’ve no laborious emotions in the direction of these guys. I nonetheless be ok with what they did for me. That’s the primary workforce, my first workforce, the workforce that made me an expert participant,” Soto stated. “They gave me the possibility to come back to the massive leagues. They made me a giant leaguer. I’m at all times going to be grateful for that. No laborious emotions for all this.”

Svrluga: The Juan Soto deal is heartbreaking. Now the hope can start.

Soto hopes some brown-and-gold cleats will arrive quickly. In the meantime, he pounded across the clubhouse in these red-and-white ones, shaking palms with new teammates. At one level he paused and regarded to his proper, noticing Bell’s new locker throughout the clubhouse.

“JB!” he stated as he walked by, taking a barely extra circuitous route again to his personal locker than he most likely will every week from now.

When he ran onto the Petco Park area for the primary time, he pointed to the followers within the stands as he used to at Nationals Park. He regarded a bit of hesitant. So they did. But 4 pitches into his Padres profession, he was safely on first base. Five batters into his Padres profession, he had scored a run. After all, for Soto, house is a serious league batter’s field, no matter coloration his cleats are as they shuffle via the grime.

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