Juan Soto extends hitting streak, Boone hails outfielder’s key role in Yankees’ spring training

Juan Soto during an spring game training.
Amanda Paula
Sunday March 3, 2024

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Juan Soto‘s scorching spring continued with yet another impressive display of power as he propelled his third home run of the preseason over the right field wall at Tampa’s George M. Steinbrenner Field. The 405-foot solo shot, unleashed against Detroit Tigers’ starter Matt Manning in the first inning, underscored Soto’s dominance in the early stages of spring training.

In what has become a trend, Juan Soto’s performance was nothing short of spectacular. His latest blast marked his fifth extra-base hit in just seven at-bats, intensifying the buzz surrounding the Yankees’ prized offseason acquisition. The 25-year-old outfielder nearly replicated his feat in the fourth inning, driving a 311-foot fly ball to the left field warning track, narrowly missing another home run as Detroit’s Justyn-Henry Malloy made a sensational catch at the wall. Soto’s contributions didn’t end there; he added a sixth-inning single before being substituted for pinch-runner Greg Allen in the Yankees’ eventual 7-2 loss.

With Sunday’s stellar 2-for-3 performance, Soto’s batting average soared to .667 (6-for-9), boasting two doubles, seven RBIs, and those three electrifying home runs in just four games. Of particular note was Soto’s first home run to right field this spring, showcasing his ability to drive the ball to all parts of the ballpark.

Maintaining his position in the Yankees lineup, Juan Soto continues to bat second, setting the stage for Aaron Judge, the formidable right-handed hitter who previously anchored the No. 2 spot from 2017-23. Soto’s impressive career on-base percentage of .421 positions him as a versatile asset, capable of either setting the table for his teammates or benefiting from the protection provided by Judge’s formidable presence.

Aaron Boone praises Juan Soto’s plate discipline and impact on Yankees’ offensive identity

Juan Soto during an spring game training.

During the game, Aaron Boone, speaking to YES Network, expressed his admiration for Juan Soto’s playing style. He remarked, “He’s fun to watch, man. I mean, he has that feeling that he’s going to kill every pitch he swings at. He’s got so much plate coverage and obviously the discipline to not chase either.” Boone highlighted Soto’s extensive plate coverage and commendable discipline, emphasizing his ability to refrain from chasing unfavorable pitches. Observing Soto’s progress has been a source of enjoyment for Boone, who sees in him the embodiment of a crucial aspect of their team’s offensive strategy.

Boone went on to underscore the significance of Juan Soto’s presence alongside other formidable hitters like Aaron Judge. He perceived their collective approach as a resurgence of the team’s ethos of wearing down opposing pitchers, a culture marked by players taking pride in their plate discipline. Boone identified Soto as a key figure in fostering this mentality, saying, “Juan kind of embodies that, you know, that we’re teams down.” Such resilience and determination, Boone believes, epitomize the team’s offensive aspirations.

Looking ahead, Boone expressed optimism about the team’s offensive capabilities, particularly with players like Soto setting the tone. He articulated his eagerness to move past previous setbacks and focus on the potential for offensive prowess in the upcoming season. For Boone, Juan Soto’s contributions symbolize renewed vigor and determination, laying the foundation for what he envisions as a formidable offensive force.

“So, it’s been fun to watch him. It’s been fun to watch his process. You know, I really feel like not only, obviously, having one of the game’s great hitters in there alongside one of the other great hitters in the game in Aaron Judge, but I feel like, you know, we’re getting back a little bit of that culture of grinding pitchers down and guys taking pride in that.” said Aaron Boone on sunday afternoon.

Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes impresses in spring training outing

Meanwhile, Nestor Cortes, the Yankees’ starting pitcher, displayed marked improvement in his second spring outing, delivering four innings of solid one-run ball against the Tigers. Despite conceding a solo homer to Detroit’s Andy Ibanez in the first inning, Cortes showcased his prowess by retiring nine Tigers in succession, striking out three while issuing just one walk.

Cortes, 29, demonstrated excellent command, throwing 36 of his 54 pitches for strikes and consistently reaching 93 miles per hour with his fastball. Encouraged by his performance, Cortes expressed satisfaction with his command and overall execution during the game.

However, the Yankees’ bullpen faltered, with newcomer Caleb Ferguson yielding two runs in just 0.1 innings, followed by Ron Marinaccio’s struggles as he conceded four runs without recording an out.

Looking ahead, the Yankees aim to capitalize on their momentum as they embark on a road trip to Jupiter, Florida, where Clarke Schmidt is slated to take the mound against the Miami Marlins on Monday night. With a blend of seasoned veterans and promising newcomers, the Yankees are poised to make a statement as they gear up for the upcoming season.

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