Braves TV analyst Joe Simpson has gone from questioning Dodgers players’ professionalism to questioning whether Nationals rookie outfielder Juan Soto is still a teenager.
Simpson voiced skepticism Tuesday while commenting on Soto’s physique during Game 1 of the Braves-Nats doubleheader in Washington.
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The Nationals list Soto as being born Oct. 25, 1998, and his height and weight are set at 6-1, 185.
Simpson’s cynicism likely stems from the fact that foreign players in the past, especially players from the Dominican Republic, have taken years off their age (by altering birth certificates) to look more appealing to major league organizations. There is no evidence that Soto, who hails from Santo Domingo in the D.R., has done this.
The Athletic reported Tuesday that Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo spoke with Simpson between games.
“I had a definite reaction,” Rizzo told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. “I handled it face to face, privately with him. I believe he understood my stance on his comments.”
Simpson, it appears, did receive the message. He told The Athletic’s David O’Brien, “I’ve already squared it away,” and then said this during Game 2 (via The Athletic):
“If you were with us in Game 1, you might have heard me make a comment off the top of my head about if he’s 19,” Simpson said on the broadcast. “Well, he is. He’s bonafide 19. And he is a full-grown man. He is strong. And he is one heck of a player. You might well just write his name in on the Rookie of the Year award right now.”
Soto homered in Game 2, his 14th of the season. He’s batting .315 with a .999 OPS in 68 games this season.
Simpson, 66, made headlines less than two weeks ago for saying on the air that Dodgers fans should be “embarrassed” that the team wore T-shirts and shorts rather than uniforms for batting practice on July 28 in Atlanta.
The Braves said Simpson apologized to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and infielder Chase Utley the next day. The team also said it did not “support” Simpson’s comments.
This article has been updated with Rizzo and Simpson’s comments and more information about Soto.