Diamondbacks Outfield to Shoulder the Burden After Souza’s Strained Pec
By Josh Burke
Steven Souza Jr. will miss significant time at an inopportune moment for the Diamondbacks. Diagnosed with a pectoral muscle strained sliding outstretched to catch a fly ball, he will be out until May. With the regular season less than a week away, Arizona’s outfield has no choice but to carry the weight of their fallen comrade in arms.
Yes, an unfortunate incident occurred during the Diamondbacks March 21st Spring Training game against San Francisco. Outfield stud Steven Souza Jr. had to come out when his shoulder was strained diving after a hit ball.
Results of an MRI have now determined that the injury is a pectoral strain. D-backs manager Torey Lovullo reportedly floated a mid-May estimate for Souza’a return, so it sounds like the team is not counting on him any time soon.
What the Diamondbacks had expected to get when they traded for Souza was a certain amount of power production and some fancy glovework in right field on most nights. While not quite replicating J.D. Martizez and his astonishing 29 home runs in 62 games, Souza was brought in to try and compensate for at least some of those dingers while also playing strong defense in the outfield.
Without Souza, Arizona should not feel like the team is doomed, though. Their group of outfielders already in place will have no problem shouldering the load to cover for the slugger until he’s healthy.
Yasmany Tomas, for one, has upped his game at the plate this spring and is apparently out to prove any and all haters wrong. With an improved hitting approach, Tomas is tied for third on the team in walks with a .316 batting average. The left fielder has yet to pop one out of the park, but is pacing Arizona with six Spring Training doubles – two more than any other D-back.
Stats-wise, center fielder A.J. Pollock has been just OK. His speed is intact as he’s proved going uncaught on two steal attempts, however, Pollock hasn’t gotten on base anywhere close to his MLB career OBP of .343.
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It’s true that we’re limited to small spring samples, but it is odd to see one walk for Pollock. Although, the fact that he has struck out only four times in 41 at bats is comforting.
While Pollack has perhaps under-performed, the most productive Diamondbacks outfielder so far has been right fielder David Peralta. With a 1.151 on-base plus slugging percentage, the left-handed swinging Venezuelan seems to be doing everything right at the plate.
Peralta, 30 years old, has been a steady contributor to Arizona’s cause for four seasons. In that span he has a .293/.345/.468 line in 1625 total plate appearances. With Souza out an unknown number of weeks, Peralta will be leaned upon more heavily by Lovullo than previously planned when the manager makes out his daily lineup card this April and presumably into May.
Also being relied on to contribute above and beyond the call of duty will be new Diamondback for 2018, Jarrod Dyson. As on outfielder, Dyson can readily defend all three positions with lightning quickness. He will get the call mostly against right-handed pitchers, but the team values his defense enough that they will put him in the lineup whenever they see fit. The hope is that Dyson can steal some outs when playing the field and steal some bags when he gets on base.
After one month of exhibition play, the Diamondbacks have to be pleased with their four healthy outfielders’ performances. Not counting utility players like Chris Owings and Daniel Descalso who, when asked nicely, will play a little OF as well, Arizona has assembled a team that doesn’t flinch when faced with an injured outfielder.
Next: Why Greinke not starting Opening Day is good thing.
The Diamondbacks traded for Steven Souza Jr. counting on a repeat of last season’s emergence as an offensive force of nature. A week before Opening Day, though, Souza injured himself attempting a big play in the outfield. The timetable for his recovery from the pectoral injury sustained, we’re told, is currently set at 6-8 weeks. As such, the D-backs outfield will be expected to carry the weight of Souza’s absence until his return in the month of May at the earliest.