WASHINGTON — For the first time since the uncertainty began in mid-June, the Nationals approached Wednesday’s game knowing definitively that Juan Soto was not going to be in the lineup.
The day following the Trade Deadline, which saw Soto and Josh Bell moved to the Padres in a massive deal, manager Dave Martinez could write his starters in pen instead of pencil. There were no last-minute scratches to ponder — the former Nats sluggers were participating in an introductory press conference in San Diego, while one-third of Washington’s lineup consisted of players who had joined the team in the last 48 hours.
“For me, I never, ever try to compare a player to a player,” manager Dave Martinez said. “They’re always so different. I always say to the coaches, ‘You’ve got 26 different guys, they think 26 different ways, they act differently.’ So it’s our job to get them to buy in and get them to understand what we’re trying to do.”
Ildemaro Vargas, who was called up from Triple-A Rochester on Monday when the Nats traded Ehire Adrianza to the Braves, started at third base in the series finale against the Mets. Joey Meneses and Josh Palacios, who were promoted from Rochester after the San Diego trade, got the nod at first base and right field, respectively.
Following an energized win on Tuesday that spoiled Jacob deGrom’s season debut, the Nats fell, 9-5, on Wednesday at Nationals Park, but…