Soto has MRI for back spasms, results negative

The Nationals get ready for a three-game set against the first-place Phillies tonight at Citizens Bank Park, hoping one of their most important hitters can return to the lineup.

Left fielder Juan Soto has been a late scratch each of the last two games against the Cardinals. After the Nats’ 2-1 win Thursday night, manager Davey Martinez said the team sent Soto for an MRI to see what is going on with his back, worried that it might be an oblique injury.

“We definitely wanted (to do further tests) after (the game) today,” Martinez said. “We thought it was back spasms yesterday. After today, again, we said ‘Just go get an MRI.’ So he went, like, right before the game, and they ruled out ... they said it was just back spasms.”

Soto-dugout-white-sidebar.jpgAbout one hour before the scheduled start of Thursday’s game, the news arrived that Soto was scratched. Martinez had said before the game that Soto was “good to go”, but the spasms returned.

“He had back spasms again,” Martinez said. “They went away, we thought he could play, he did everything, warmed up, and then he went to go hit in the cage and (the pain) got him back.”

Martinez said the Nats are now listing Soto as “day-to-day”.

“We sent him to go get an MRI, everything came back negative, so he’s going to be day-to-day,” the skipper said. “He’s a huge part of our lineup, but we want him for longevity. We don’t want to risk something else happening.”

The Nats are without hitters Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner and Ryan Zimmerman, so adding Soto to that list would be close to devastating this early in the season. Martinez did say during pregame Thursday that Turner could be swinging a bat by the end of the week.

* Right-hander Stephen Strasburg reached the 1,500 strikeout plateau when he struck out pitcher Dakota Hudson in the top of the fifth inning Thursday. He also hit the 1,500 mark in only 1,272 1/3 innings, more than 17 innings quicker than Chris Sale (1,290 innings pitched). Closer Sean Doolittle tried to put the record in perspective.

“It’s awesome. I’m so happy for him, and to be the fastest to ever do it in terms of innings pitched ... I think that’s so cool,’ Doolittle said. “I can’t even begin to imagine 1,500 strikeouts as a one-inning reliever, that is such a huge number to me. I am having trouble wrapping my head around it, to be honest, but for all he’s been through, the expectations that he came into this organization with, some of the injuries he’s dealt with over his career, I’m really happy for him to get a milestone like this at home. And he’s pitching really, really well right now.”

Strasburg made his 213th career start for the Nats in the win Thursday, matching Gio Gonzalez for most in Nationals history.

* Double-A Harrisburg outfielder Rhett Wiseman hit his 10th homer of the season in the fourth inning Thursday as the Senators dropped Trenton 7-4. Drew Ward also hit a homer. Ben Braymer (2-1) notched the win with seven strong innings, allowing two runs on two hits. Veteran Aaron Barrett recorded his sixth save with one inning of shutout relief.

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