Monday was another good day and night for the Yankees’ new superhero who did everything but leap small buildings in a single bound in his first five games wearing his road gray uniform with No. 22 on the back.

Juan Soto

Yankees right fielder Juan Soto wasn’t happy after being rung up by plate umpire in the third inning of Monday night’s 5-2 win over the Diamondbacks.AP

First came some national recognition for Juan Soto, who was so mesmerizing and brilliant in his first series with his new club on Easter Weekend in Houston that there was no other choice for the first American League Player of the Week honors of the season, not even Oswaldo Cabrera.

At the ballpark, Soto had a bad night by his standards in the Yankees’ 5-2 win over the Diamondbacks even though a lot of the mortal major leaguers would feel pretty good about an 0-for-3 with a couple walks and a nice sliding catch in right field in a victory.


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Games like this are what the great ones often do when they have a hitless night, but like Aaron Judge, Soto is a perfectionist who never is satisfied, especially when he’s sure that his night could have been better.

In the first of three Yankees games this week against the defending NL champs, Soto wasn’t happy with plate umpire Larry Vanover’s strike zone.


No player in baseball today knows what’s a ball and what’s a strike better than Soto, who led the National League in walks in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Batting in the fourth inning, Soto got mad when a high first pitch was called a strike. It was close, but MLB.com’s strike-zone box indicated Vanover got it right.

Later in the at-bat, Soto went from angry to irate when he was rung up on a 2-2 fastball that he thought was low and outside. Soto argued with Hanover for a few seconds before returning to the Yankees dugout, but the strike-zone box again showed that the ump was right.

No biggie. By then, the Yankees were up comfortably and on their way to their first 5-0 start to a season since 1992, which ironically now is known as the franchise’s last losing season.

The way the Yankees are playing, they’re probably more likely to win 100 games and steamroll everyone in the playoffs for a first title since 2009 than pull a 1992.

On this night, Soto was just a contributor to a win that was fueled by pitcher Luis Gil’s one-run, 4 2/3-inning start in his first outing since May 2022 and shortstop Anthony Volpe’s first career four-hit game.

After the game, Soto was over his beef with the ump and smiling throughout a short interview at his locker. The small group of reporters included two national writers, Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Barry Bloom of Sportico.

After a little small talk, Bloom threw out a question that would be of interest to all Yankees fans but had no shot of getting a good answer:

What’s your long-term plan? Would you like to stay here?

The smile on Soto’s face disappeared as he reverted to robot mode and pulled out the same answer he uses for all questions about his impending free agency or lack of extension talks with the Yankees, who say they’ll let the season play out and then come up with a plan.

“Right now I’m playing baseball,” Soto said. “I’m focusing on ‘24. I’m not focusing on anything else. If you want to ask somebody about it, you can call Scott. He will answer all those questions.”

Bloom responded that he’d recently talked to Scott Boras and the agent said basically the same thing: Soto’s only focus is on being the best Yankee he can be this year.

Soto smiled again when the subject was changed to Volpe, whose 4-for-4 night left him leading the majors with a .571 batting average and .667 on-base percentage.

“I’m happy for him,” Soto said. “I saw him in spring training and faced him last year. Since I saw him in spring training, I knew he was going to have a great year. His swing is way different from the way it looked last year. I think he made great adjustments.”

Soto isn’t answering where he wants to be next year, but he wants to be a Yankee this year. He’s enjoyed bonding with his new teammates, especially Judge, Cabrera, Gleyber Torres and Anthony Rizzo, among others. He loves talking hitting with them, and they love watching and learning when he hits indoors in the cage or takes BP on the field.

Tuesday is April 3, game six of 162 on the Yankees’ schedule. Hal Steinbrenner probably already is thinking he’d love to keep Soto, but only he knows if he’ll even seriously consider paying market price, which figures to be far more than the $360 million for nine years that it took to keep Judge two winters ago. Early industry speculation has Soto being a Yankees one-and-done because of price and management envisioning its best prospects sharing the outfield with Judge in the next year or two, Jasson Dominguez and Spencer Jones.

But Soto is a Yankee now and they’re cherishing that every day.

Boone chuckled in his Monday pre-game presser when an out-of-town writer asked him what Soto has meant to the Yankees.

“I think the world’s talking about that,” Boone said. “It’s been enormous. Since day one of spring training, I think he’s done a tremendous job of just immersing himself in our culture and our room. The guys have embraced him. He’s one of them.

“I think we’ve seen he’s very comfortable and he showed that first weekend why he’s one of the best players in the league.”