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Hall of Famer Dave Winfield knows why Juan Soto is off to strong start with Yankees: 'It's not all on him'

Hall of Famer Dave Winfield knows why Juan Soto is off to strong start with Yankees: ‘It’s not all on him’

Tooba Shakir 2 months ago 0 1

From one New York Yankees right fielder to the another, Hall of Famer Dave Winfield knows how much Juan Soto means to his former squad. 

Heading into the 2024 season, all Yankee fans could talk about was how Soto’s addition to an already-stacked lineup would look, especially after a disappointing 82-80 season the year prior. Soto’s successful spring training, where he was hitting the ball out of the park left and right, made the hype even more palpable. 

It was there in Tampa Bay where Winfield got to see Soto interacting with his new teammates in the Yankees’ locker room, and he knew then that he was going to fit in nicely. 

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Juan Soto in outfield

Juan Soto of the New York Yankees warms up in the outfield during the Astros game at Minute Maid Park on Thursday, March 28, 2024, in Houston. (Michael Starghill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

“I saw him in spring training in the Yankees’ locker room. He looks like he’s loose, confident,” Winfield told Fox News Digital while promoting the new “Cracker Jack at the Ballpark” exhibit at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. 

Through seven games this season, the 6-1 Yankees have already seen Soto have several “earn your pinstripes” moments – all of which he came through. 

The first was in the season opener against the Houston Astros, where the Yankees held a one-run lead going into the ninth inning. A Kyle Tucker single with runners on first and second put that lead in jeopardy, as Mauricio Dubón rounded third base. 

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Soto, though, sprinted after the ball on the right field grass, came up firing, and catcher Jose Trevino tagged him for the second out of the inning, preserving the lead. 

“I saw that play (in the outfield), aggressive defense, charged the ball, caught it on a good hop, fired to home, saved the game. I thought I was watching me,” Winfield said, laughing. 

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After a 3-for-4 second game with an RBI and a walk, Soto hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning of Game 3, an opposite-field line drive that just got into the Crawford Boxes in left field. 

Then, in the series finale, Soto’s clutch at-bat against Astros closer Josh Hader saw him line a pitch to left field, which led Gleyber Torres to score to take the lead. He pounded his chest as he ran down the first baseline, knowing he might have just helped his team win the game. 

“It’s a great way to break out onto the stage when you’re Player of the Week,” Winfield said, as Soto was given that title for the American League after the first series. 

Juan Soto and Aaron Judge

Juan Soto and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees during the Astros game at Minute Maid Park on Thursday, March 28, 2024 in Houston. (Michael Starghill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

“I love his tools, his talent. Some people might think he’s just a slugger. As a hitter, he’ll take a walk and use the entire field. As long as he does that, he shouldn’t endure too many slumps.”

All of this comes before Soto even got to play his first game at Yankee Stadium, which comes on Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays. Of course, Soto is going to want to shine in the Bronx in front of the Yankees faithful, but coming from someone who did it for years, Winfield doesn’t think Soto needs to go above and beyond. 

His All-Star teammates ease the pressure, allowing him to just play like he always does. 

“He’s comfortable because it’s not all on him,” Winfield explained. “You got some big, bad players over there.… He doesn’t have to be the man. He is the man in a lot of respects. He’s going to do his thing and make great contributions. But you got Aaron Judge, you got Giancarlo Stanton over there. Gerrit Cole when he gets healthy again. I’m just talking the big guys. They got a lot of contributors over there. 

“So, he’ll have a good year and I think he’ll be smiling at the end of the year, too, because people will say, ‘Are you available?’ I don’t want to get into free agency talk and all that kind of stuff. But I know he likes New York.”

Before Winfield got to sit back and watch the Yankees, he was in Cooperstown installing some of the final pieces of the Cracker Jack at the Ballpark exhibit in the Hall of Fame. 

For more than 125 years, Cracker Jack has shown up in the biggest moments in baseball, and of course, you can’t sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” without mentioning the iconic snack. As such, the Hall’s exhibit shows moments connected to Cracker Jack, including baseball cards and an original replica of the seventh-inning stretch song. 

Juan Soto and Dave Winfield side by side

Dave Winfield loves what Juan Soto is bringing to the New York Yankees this season. (Getty Images)

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And to celebrate the exhibit opening on April 4, the latest Cracker Jack prize is giving a fan a VIP experience to visit the exhibit in Cooperstown during Hall of Fame weekend from July 19-22 by entering at CrackerJackHallOfFame.com.

“(The Hall of Fame) has stuff going back 100 years. Cracker Jack has been around longer than that, so they got some unique, iconic pieces,” Winfield said. “They got a lunchbox, buttons, all kinds of things that people can relate to.”

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