San Diego — Juan Soto Promised to bring “good vibes” to the San Diego Padres, he came to Petco Park with a warning to opposing teams.
The acquisition of a 23-year-old generational talent in perhaps the biggest deadline deal has excited the Padres and their long-suffering fans, and there is more to come.
When that lineup hits the field, “It’s going to be really exciting. It’s going to be really hard to get through, and I wish the other pitchers the best of luck,” Soto said with a laugh at an introductory news conference.
Hours later, Soto and the rest of the new-look Padres quickly lived up to the slugger’s words.
Brandon DruryAcquired in a deadline deal with the Reds on Tuesday, he hit a grand slam in his first at-bat, Soto went 1-for-3 with two walks and Bell had two walks and two runs scored as San Diego beat Colorado. 9-1.
The sellout crowd gave Soto a standing ovation when he ran out to his position in right field in the first inning, then again when he came to the plate in the bottom of the inning.
“It’s really cool. It brings up a lot of emotion for me,” Soto said. “It’s amazing how they cheered me up. They gave us the energy to go out and play hard.”
He walked on four pitches in his first at-bat. Machado doubled behind him, Bell also walked, and then Drury became the fifth player in the expansion era (since 1961) to hit a grand slam in his first plate appearance with a team, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I was running on adrenaline,” Drury said. “The fans were incredible tonight. At first at bat, the bases were loaded, I was running on pure adrenaline. It was so exciting to be here. It’s really special to me.”
It all added up to a successful first night for the Padres, who held onto the NL’s second wild-card spot after Wednesday’s win, trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers by 11½ games.
Soto, one of the game’s best young hitters, said before the game that he was happy Bell was included in the trade. The two flew to San Diego on a private jet Tuesday night.
“For me, I never realized I was going to trade one. Maybe I was thinking to myself,” Soto said. “When I realized I was coming in with Josh, we have a great relationship and I was really excited and excited for him to come in and I know what he’s like and what he brings to the table. I’m really excited. Share another clubhouse with him.”
Soto contributed to the Nationals’ 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 have come a long way.
Padres general manager A.J. “Let’s win, let’s bring good energy to the clubhouse and the stadium, come in here and try to win,” Soto said in all of his conversations with Breller and his new teammates. Try to bring my experience as a 2019 World Series Champion to San Diego.
“That’s what I’m going to do, that’s what’s on my mind since I saw the trade yesterday. That’s what we’re going to do, try to do it until we’re the last team standing.”
Soto thinks he’s joining a World Series contender.
“Yes, of course,” he said. “This team has what it takes to win the World Series.”
San Diego last played in the World Series in 1998, when it was swept by the New York Yankees.
Soto is under contract for two seasons beyond this year and said he’s not thinking about anything after that.
He said he was thinking about winning. “I’m coming into this clubhouse to win the energy that I have, all the good vibes that I have to bring here.”
Soto and Bell come from a team with one of baseball’s worst records and its postseason chances.
“It feels really good,” Soto said. “It’s really exciting to be here. To come out of a group that didn’t have a chance to be here, it’s a great feeling, a new vibe, it’s a new start for me. It’s a new start, a new feeling to go out there and give more than I have.”
Bell said: “Obviously we put our hearts and souls into this game wherever we are. … But being here and hunting and having a reason to show up is a little bit more fuel on the fire. Every day we have to get the job done a little bit earlier. I’m sure there’s going to be a new opportunity here. I am.”
Soto and Tatis, 23, have known each other since playing together in the Dominican Prospect League.
“That’s my boy, my hometown boy,” Tadis said Tuesday. “I mean, we’ve been playing together since we were 15, 16. Now we’re on the same team. It’s crazy.”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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