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#pounditWednesday, March 29, 2023

Video: Juan Soto has fitting first at-bat with Padres

Juan Soto did what he does best during his first at-bat since being traded to the San Diego Padres.

Hours before Tuesday’s MLB non-waiver trade deadline, the Washington Nationals dealt Soto and first baseman Josh Bell to the Padres for a bevy of prospects that included shortstop C.J. Abrams, outfielder James Wood, outfielder Robert Hassell and pitchers MacKenzie Gore and Jarlin Susana.

First baseman Eric Hosmer was also supposed to be in the deal, but he rejected the Nationals and ended up going to the Boston Red Sox. First baseman/designated hitter Luke Voit went to Washington in the trade as well.

During Soto’s first plate appearance in San Diego on Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies, the two-time All-Star drew a four-pitch walk in the first inning.

Later in the inning, newly-acquired infielder Brandon Drury mashed a grand slam to give the Padres a 5-0 lead.

Padres fans greeted Soto with a thunderous ovation as the 23-year-old ran out to his position in right field prior to first pitch.

Soto is one of the best in the game at getting on base. Entering Wednesday, he led MLB with 91 walks and was third in OBP (.408). Soto led the league in walks (145) and OBP (.465) last season, and had a career-best .490 OBP during the 2020 COVID-shortened season.

While opposing pitchers may have been able to pitch around Soto when he was part of a weaker Nationals lineup, the post-deadline Padres lineup does not provide many opportunities to do so. Soto certainly thinks San Diego’s starting nine will instill plenty of fear in the opposition.

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