Soto was not in the starting lineup for Washington's home game against the Atlanta Braves. But down five runs, Soto pinch hit in the eighth inning for the Nationals, and struck out swinging. Atlanta won 6-1.
Manager Davey Martinez does indeed want to take it slow with Soto, who sat out because of a strained left shoulder. The manager said he is not yet "game ready to throw," and he hasn't yet attempted to throw to any bases.
From an offensive standpoint, the strikeout notwithstanding, Martinez is comfortable with what he sees, and in addition to any spot pinch-hitting duties this week, there's a chance Soto could be used as a designated hitter in an American League ballpark this weekend, when the Nationals meet the Yankees.
Soto, 22, was originally in the Nationals' lineup April 19 against St. Louis, but the Nationals tweeted the IL move about an hour before the game began.
"He was dealing with it over the last few days. A tight tricep," Martinez said at the time. "[An] MRI came back showing a slight strain in his left shoulder."
Outfielder Yadiel Hernandez was recalled from the team's alternate site to replace Soto on the roster last month.
Soto hit .300 with two home runs and eight RBIs in 14 games prior to the injury. He missed 10 games while on the IL.
Washington also reinstated right-handed reliever Will Harris from the IL, optioned right-hander Kyle McGowin to Triple-A Rochester and designated utilityman Hernan Perez for assignment ahead of Tuesday's game.
Harris, who had yet to pitch this season, tossed an inning of relief in the loss to Atlanta. His injury was listed as right hand inflammation after initially being diagnosed as a blood clot. After a clot was ruled out, there was concern Harris might have thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition that can require surgery.
McGowin has a 4.91 ERA in seven relief appearances.
Perez is batting .053 (1-for-19) in limited duty. He has made two appearances as a pitcher late in blowout losses, throwing two scoreless innings.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.