New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone spent more than three years in the minor leagues, and played in 159 games at the Double-A level before he made it to the major leagues in 1997 with Cincinnati.
Boone certainly wishes Nationals rookie left fielder Juan Soto, 19, would have spent more time down on the farm.
Soto hit a pinch-hit homer at Nationals Park on Monday for the Washington Nationals in a 5-3 victory over the Yankees in the completion of a suspended game. The game was suspended by rain on May 15 at Nationals Park with the Nationals coming to bat in the last of the sixth inning and the score tied 3-3.
Does that make his performance more impressive?
“Perhaps,” said Boone, who then paused a few seconds. “I wish he was climbing (the minor league) ladder more routinely and was at Double-A now.”
“What can you say? Nineteen and obviously doing really well. He has hurt us in a couple of game,” added Boone, who played for the Nationals in 2008.
It was the sixth homer in the first 78 big league at-bats for Soto, who crushed a 3-1 pitch about 430 feet off Yankees reliever Chad Green over the Nationals bullpen in right field. Soto hit two homers at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
The Monday pitch was “right in his hot zone. Soto got us again,” said Boone, whose father, Bob, works in the front office for the Nationals. “Obviously a really good-looking player. We have to quickly turn the page.”
Did Nationals manager Dave Martinez envision such a long shot?
“No, but I thought he had a good chance to hit the ball hard. That was hard,” Martinez said of Soto, who was not available to the media since the regularly-scheduled game was slated to begin about 30 minutes later.
Soto come to the plate Monday in the last of the sixth to hit for Matt Adams. Adams started in left field on May 15, but hurt his finger when batting in Toronto this past weekend.
Soto was called up by the Nationals on May 20, which will remain the date of his major league debut, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The stat will include an asterisk denoting that he subsequently played in a suspended game that started before his official debut. He struck out in the eighth inning Monday.
Therefore, Monday’s homer comes five days before his official debut.
Nationals reliever Wander Suero pitched the sixth inning on May 15 and was sent back out to the mound for the seventh on Monday. He was credited with the win while Nationals closer Sean Doolittle pitched the ninth for his 18th save in 19 tries.
Doolittle fanned two of the three batters he faced.
Howie Kendrick, who started at second base May 15 for the Nationals, injured his Achilles heel May 18 and is expected to miss the rest of the season. He was replaced at second for the top of the seventh Monday by Wilmer Difo.
Andrew Stevenson was the starting center fielder for Washington on May 15, but he was sent to Triple-A Syracuse in early June. Difo pinch-hit for him Monday and stayed in the game.
The win Monday helped mask the ongoing slump of Washington right fielder Bryce Harper, who began Monday hitting .120 in his last seven games and .145 in his previous 15 contests. He struck out to start the bottom of the sixth as the game resumed Monday and then walked in the seventh.
While the Yankees head back to New York, the Nationals begin a three-game series at home Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. with the struggling Baltimore Orioles.
Rookie right-hander David Hess, who faced the Nationals in Baltimore last month, is slated to start for an Orioles team that has the worst mark in the majors at 20-50 and has lost nine of 10.