SAN DIEGO — John Soto arrived at Petco Park promising to bring “good vibes” to the San Diego Padres and warning opposing teams.
Acquiring the 23-year-old talent in perhaps the biggest deadline deal ever has excited the Padres and their long-suffering fans, and there’s more to come.
Soto and Josh Bell joined the streak on Wednesday, currently anchored by the All-Star slugger. Manny Machado. Star shorts Fernando Tatis Jr. is expected to return in a few weeks from a broken left wrist.
When that lineup hits the field, “It’s going to be really interesting. It’s going to be really tough and I wish the other pitchers the best of luck,” Soto said with a laugh at the opening press conference.
Hours later, Soto and the rest of the new-look Padres quickly lived up to the slugger’s words.
Brandon Drurywho was acquired in a deadline deal with the Reds on Tuesday, hit his first grand slam, Soto went 1-for-3 with two walks and Bell drove in two walks and two runs as San Diego beat Colorado. , 9-1.
Soto received a standing ovation from the Petco clubhouse fans when he homered to right field in the top of the first inning.
He walked four pitches in his first at-bat in the bottom of the frame. Machado doubled behind him, Bell also walked, and then Drury became the fifth player in the expansion era (since 1961) to hit his first grand slam with the team, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
It all contributed to a successful first night for the new-look Padres, who moved into second place in the NL, 11.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West after Wednesday’s win.
Soto, one of the best young players in the game, said before the game that he was happy Bell was included in the trade. The two were flown to San Diego on a private plane on Tuesday evening.
“I never realized I was going to be traded together. I thought I was probably alone,” Soto said. “When I found out I was coming with Josh, we have a great relationship, I was more excited and more fired up because he’s coming and I know the kind of guy he is and what he brings to the table. share another club with him”.
Soto helped lead the Nationals to their first World Series title in 2019, then hit .351 in 2020 to win the NL batting title. He’s in his second straight All-Star season, and now he and Bell have joined a team whose playoff chances were crucial.
Soto said all the conversations with Padres general manager AJ Preller and his new teammates have been, “Let’s win, let’s bring good energy to the clubhouse and the stadium, just come in here and try to win. Try to carry your experience as a World Series champion into 2019 here in San Diego.
“That’s what I’m going to do, it’s been on my mind since I saw the trade yesterday. That’s what we’re going to try to do, try to get to the last team.”
Soto believes he is joining a World Series contender.
“Yes, of course,” he said. “This team has what it takes to win a World Series.”
San Diego last played in the World Series in 1998 when they were swept by the New York Yankees.
Soto is under contract for two seasons beyond this year and said he isn’t thinking about anything beyond that.
“I’m just thinking about winning,” he said. “I just come to this clubhouse to bring the energy that I have, all the good emotions that I have to bring here to win.”
Soto and Bell come from a team with the worst record in baseball to a team that has improved its postseason chances.
“It’s a really nice feeling,” Soto said. “I feel like I’m here. Just coming out of a team that has no chance to get here, it’s a great feeling, a new atmosphere, a new start for me. It’s a new start, a new feeling. Go out there and give more than I have.”
Said Bell: “Obviously we pour our hearts and souls into this game wherever we are… But being here, being in the hunt and having a reason to show up is a little extra fuel to the fire. a little earlier each day to do the work we need to do. I’m definitely excited to get a new opportunity here.”
Soto and Tatis, also 23, have known each other since playing together in the Dominican Prospect League.
“This is my boy, my hometown boy,” Tatis said Tuesday. “I mean, we’ve been playing together since we were 15, 16. And now we’re on the same team. It’s crazy.”
This report used information from The Associated Press.