Things haven't gone to plan since the San Diego Padres loaded up at the trade deadline.
Fortunately for Soto, the Padres don't expect him to miss much time. Manager Bob Melvin told reporters after the 6-3 San Diego win that Soto sustained a shoulder contusion and hopes that he can return to action on Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers after a day off on Thursday.
“I think he’s gonna be ok — hopefully after an off day,” Melvin told reporters. “When you initially get hit, the strength goes away. He tried to go into the cage and swing a little bit. It wasn’t great."
The incident occurred in the third inning with the Padres leading, 3-2. Diamondbacks starter Tommy Henry threw a 91 mph fastball up and in that hit Soto high on his back near his right shoulder after he turned to protect himself from the errant pitch.
Juan Soto exited the game in the 5th, after being hit in the shoulder by a pitch during the 3rd inning. pic.twitter.com/FQspJBgRDu
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) September 8, 2022
Soto fell to the ground in pain before eventually getting up and taking his base. He was able to keep playing briefly, but left the game in the fifth inning.
The hit-by-pitch continues Soto's rough start in San Diego amid a season that was already his worst at the plate as a pro. Unexpected back tightness sidelined him for three games in August. He's struggled since returning to the lineup and was mired in a 2-for-27 slump prior to Wednesday's game that dropped the former batting champ's average to .243 and elicited boos from the Padres faithful.
Meanwhile, a Padres team that hoped to compete with the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs has looked little like a contender while posting a 16-16 record since the August 2 trade to acquire Soto from the Washington Nationals. They left Wednesday's game trailing the Dodgers by 19 games in the NL West, but maintained a four-game edge over the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL's final wild-card berth.
They need Soto back soon alongside a return to form in time for the playoffs — if they advance.