Juan Soto ran sprints in the outfield, took some big swings in batting practice and signed a few autographs at the San Diego Padres spring training complex Wednesday after an early workout to test a left calf that kept him in Arizona.
Soto, who has been dealing with calf tightness, could still join the Dominican Republic team in Miami before it begins group play in the World Baseball Classic on Saturday against Venezuela. He even did some outfield work during his workout.
Padres manager Bob Melvin said the team increased the progression of Soto’s work, and that the outfielder could play in a “B” game against Cleveland on Thursday.
“If he plays in that, hopefully we can get him cleared … and optimistic for potentially getting him on the road Friday,” Melvin said.
Soto remained in Peoria, Arizona, for treatment when Manny Machado, Luis García and Nelson Cruz left the Padres camp Monday to join the Dominican Republic. The 42-year-old Cruz, trying to make San Diego’s roster as a designated hitter/outfielder, is general manager for his country in the WBC.
Melvin said he had spoken to Cruz, who was trying to get a feel for Soto’s status. Cruz also was expected to speak with Padres GM AJ Preller.
Once cleared, there would be no limits on Soto in the WBC.
“The plan is to get him out on the field and let him play, and hopefully he can play on the field,” Melvin said. “But I think the backup plan would probably be DH.”
San Diego acquired the 24-year-old Soto in a trade deadline deal last season. The Washington Nationals traded the two-time All-Star and 2019 World Series champion after he turned down a $440 million, 15-year contract.