TORONTO — Donovan Solano got called up the major leagues about a week before his brother, Nationals catcher Jhonatan. But when Jhonatan connected with Henderson Alavarez’s 0-2 slider in the seventh inning Tuesday, Jhonatan had something his brother does not: his first major league home run.
When he made it back to the dugout, his homer having dipped over the left field wall, his teammates hardly moved. Ryan Zimmerman stifled a smile, no one else looked at him. A few seconds later, though, they were all over the 26-year-old who’d played six years in the minor leagues and hit 21 home runs in his entire professional career.
“Sweet, sweet, sweet,” Solano said, the ball in his right hand ready to be shipped home to his parents in Colombia. “God blessed me with that pitch and I had good contact.”
When he got down 0-2, Solano told himself to look for something middle away. When Alvarez threw a slider “right in the middle,” he uncorked his 5-foot-9 frame.
“I hit it good,” Solano said. “When I was around first base I was like ‘Wow.’ I feel good contact but I don’t know. I don’t imagine that ball is gone.”
Solano has made just three starts since getting called up at the end of may but he’s made the most of his opportunities. Solano is hitting .400 (4-for-10) and figures to be the Nationals’ primary backup catcher for the foreseeable future.
“He’s a good little player,” said Nationals manager Davey Johnson. “We have a lot of depth at catcher.”