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Juan Soto’s lumber might be getting hot. His leather? Another story.

Nationals right fielder Juan Soto cannot catch a run-scoring triple by Phillies' Didi Gregorius during the third inning of Thursday's game in Philadelphia. (Matt Slocum/AP)
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PHILADELPHIA — Juan Soto jogged to the fence, stopped and waited for a ball that, on contact, looked like a homer for Didi Gregorius on Thursday. But when it found the wall instead, Soto only jumped a bit, allowing the ball to miss his glove and roll back into right field at Citizens Bank Park. And while he chased the triple through the grass, Soto twice glanced over his shoulder, seeming confused about what just happened.

He certainly wasn’t alone.

“It never touched the fence … my glove. I just thought I shouldn’t jump, and I didn’t jump. And then when I looked at the ball I [realized] I should have jumped,” Soto said. “It is what it is. … I was under it, but the wind and everything, I just missed it. At the end of the day, I just missed it.”

Damage on the miscue? The go-ahead run in the Washington Nationals’ 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. The bigger contributors to the defeat? The offense stranding six men in the first three innings, Joan Adon’s ERA jumping to 7.10 with four earned runs in four innings and Darick Hall beating the Nationals with an RBI double in the third and a solo homer off Steve Cishek in the seventh. But for the bigger picture, there’s reason to unpack Soto’s odd attempt at making a tough play at the wall.

Yes, it was his first time in the field since he injured his left calf Sunday. Yet even so, Soto has raised legitimate questions about whether he can stick in right field, where he moved from left before the 2021 season.

“My throws have apparently been really good this year, way better,” Soto said. "[Bench coach Tim Bogar] and [first base coach Eric Young Jr.] have been helping me a lot … so I’ve been feeling really good at that part. You know, flyballs, groundballs sometimes can get tough. But we’ll keep working on it.”

Outs above average, Statcast’s catchall defensive metric, considers him the worst right fielder in the majors. Ultimate Zone Rating, an advanced stat from FanGraphs, has the 23-year-old a few spots from the bottom. Later in the game, Soto was positioned well for a liner from Rhys Hoskins and made a shoestring grab. At the plate, he logged two singles, drove in César Hernández in the second and struck out looking against Seranthony Dominguez in the ninth.

But more than once this season, Soto has failed to help his pitcher with a routine play or better. The numbers back up the eye test. The collision of them hurt the Nationals (30-55) on Thursday.

“I know he’s kind of nursing his leg a little bit,” Manager Dave Martinez said, giving Soto that excuse while adding his glove was caught in the chain-link fence. But Soto both acknowledged his calf felt “heavy” and was accountable for the triple. He didn’t blame the stationary wall.

Why did shortstop Luis García exit in the seventh? García was experiencing stomach issues, according to Martinez, who knocked aside a question about García wincing and grabbing his hip after grounding out in the sixth. Earlier in the series, designated hitter Nelson Cruz missed two games with a stomach virus. Martinez expressed concern about García flying to Atlanta while sick. Following the defeat, he was in the clubhouse with a medical mask around his chin.

Will Joan Adon get another chance in the rotation? Martinez did not commit to that after Adon, 23, yielded six hits, four runs and walked three on 96 pitches in four innings. He did strike out five, helping him quiet the Phillies (44-39) in his first trip through their order. But the second included five hits, a walk and a sacrifice fly in nine at-bats. In the middle of the outing, as Adon’s command wavered, the Nationals had him throw from the stretch instead of the windup with no runners on base, and he felt more comfortable.

To clear a roster spot for Adon, the Nationals put reliever Reed Garrett on the 15-day injured list Thursday with right biceps inflammation. But if they don’t want to start Adon again, Aníbal Sánchez could soon be ready to come off the IL. Sánchez, 38, is scheduled to make a third rehab start for the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings on Friday. That would put him on regular rest for Adon’s turn Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners.

How did Sean Doolittle’s first bullpen session go? “Pretty good, actually,” Doolittle said after he threw 15 pitches, all fastballs, Thursday. The 35-year-old reliever is recovering from a left elbow sprain suffered in April. The plan is to throw another bullpen session Sunday or Monday.

“The emphasis on that one is just trying to come out of it feeling good,” Doolittle continued. “And right now … it’s the normal stuff I feel after a throwing session. So I’m happy with that. The first one you’re really just wanting to come out of it feeling okay. It’s a little bit like spring training. I haven’t thrown off a mound in three months.”

Why hasn’t Aldo Ramirez pitched in 2022? After watching Kyle Schwarber burn the Nationals this week, it felt fair to ask why Ramirez — the pitcher Washington acquired for Schwarber at last July’s deadline — has zero appearances on the year. Turns out the 21-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery this spring, something that flew under the radar because the club offers minimal injury updates on minor league players.

Of the 12 prospects netted in the sell-off that started the Nationals’ rebuild, Ramirez was the furthest away from the majors. He couldn’t legally buy a drink in the United States. He also arrived from the Boston Red Sox with shoulder issues, making just four appearances for the Nationals in the Florida Complex League. And now, because most Tommy John recoveries take a year, Ramirez won’t resurface before early next season.