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Juan Soto

Juan Soto shows off arm in Yankees debut

Juan Soto throws out Dubon to preserve one-run lead

HOUSTON – Juan Soto never had a doubt. At least that’s what he said Thursday evening after showing his new Yankees teammates and the Astros that he’s more than one of the best sluggers in Major League Baseball.

The three-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger Award winner has accomplished almost everything since breaking into the majors as a 19-year-old phenom with the Washington Nationals in 2018. He has won a World Series, a batting title and even the Home Run Derby.

The young, five-tool superstar is missing a Gold Glove, though. Juan Soto is working on changing that. Soto showed off his defense on Opening Day to help the Yankees beat the Astros 5-4 at Minute Maid Park. 

Juan Soto delivers

With two men on, one out and the Yankees clinging to a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the ninth, Soto charged in to field Kyle Tucker’s single to right field. He then delivered a perfect throw to catcher Jose Trevino, beating Mauricio Dubon by a split second.

The Yankees’ All-Star catcher applied the tag barely in time. The Astros challenged plate umpire James Hoye’s out call, but the call was upheld after video review.

“Just tried to make a great throw to the plate and let Trevi do whatever he wants to do,” Soto said.

The Yankees acquired Soto via trade from the San Diego Padres in the offseason. They knew about his bat. Everybody does, after all. The defense stood out on Opening Day too when it mattered most.

With the help of third base/outfield coach Luis Rojas, Soto worked diligently this spring on his defense. 

Soto played all 154 games in left field with the San Diego Padres last year. He had not played in right field since 2022, but he clearly worked on the move to right field this spring.

“I feel pretty good, man,” he said. “I worked all spring training long with my arm and my throws from right field. To see this stuff happen, it’s just a great feeling. It tells you I’m going in the right way with what I’ve been doing. I’m more excited with what I’m doing.”

It didn’t take long this spring for Yankees manager Aaron Boone to realize that Soto also has the work ethic necessary to become a quality outfielder.

Work ethic pays off

Boone noted that Soto’s work ethic stood out this spring to Rojas, other coaches and members of the staff.

“His process and work ethic and care factor about not just hitting, like, he takes a lot of pride on his defense,” Boone said of Soto. “He wants to be great on defense. He wants to be really good on the bases. He made a big time winning play today on defense.”

Soto helped the Yankees offensively as well. He was 1-for-3 with two walks. He hit an RBI single to right with the bases loaded in the fifth inning to cut the Astros’ lead to 4-1.

Two outs later, Astros lefty Framber Valdez hit Anthony Rizzo with a pitch to plate another run. Anthony Volpe then drew a four-pitch walk off reliever Seth Martinez to plate another run. Oswaldo Cabrera’s solo home run off Rafael Montero tied the score at 4 in the sixth.


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Alex Verdugo, another veteran making his Yankees debut, gave the Bronx Bombers the lead with a sacrifice fly to left off Ryan Pressly.

The Astros jumped on Yankees closer Clay Holmes with a menacing scoring threat in the bottom of the ninth. Dubon led off with a single to right. One out later, Yordan Alvarez singled.

Winning history against Astros

The sellout crowd of 42,642 buzzed in anticipation of another comeback against a Yankees franchise the Astros have tormented during the greatest era in franchise history.

The Astros have won two World Series since 2017, losing two others in that span. Soto was a major reason the Nationals beat the Astros in the 2019 World Series. 

He wasn’t part of the Yankees teams that tasted mostly heartache against the Astros since 2017. With a smile on his face and a bit of bravado, Soto admitted that he was confident as soon as he sent his throw home in the ninth.

Juan Soto
Juan Soto tormented the Astros with his arm and bat to help the Yankees open the season with a 5-4 victory on March 28, 2024. Photo by Juan DeLeon/ Our Esquina. All images are Copyright to Juan DeLeon Creative

He’s more than just a potent slugger, after all.  

“When you’re young and athletic and you care and you work, you can move the needle because he’s a good enough athlete,” Boone said of Soto. “He works hard on getting reads and jumps and all those kinds of things. As you get more and more experience and get better at that, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be a good outfielder.”

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