Snake bitten seems to be an appropriate term when talking about the latest Arizona Diamondbacks setback. Tuesday after their final spring training game with the White Sox, the D-backs skipper Torey Lovullo said, "This hurts for obvious reasons, but we will be behind him all the way as he goes through surgery and the recovery process. It really is an unfortunate situation." The managers comments were in regards of outfielder Steven Souza Jr's horrific knee injury as he stepped on home plate in an exhibition game at Chase Field versus the White Sox on Monday night.
Steven Souza Jr. will need season ending surgery on his left knee from the fall he took. The MRI showed torn left ACL torn left LCL, partial tear of the left PCL, and posterior lateral capsule tear. The surgery will be performed once all the swelling has gone down. He will miss the entire 2019 season, perhaps more.
Lovullo said, "We will have to come together as a team. We have the players to plug in and play many positions." Souza Jr. was set to start in right field, but Adam Jones was out there for the final exhibition game on Tuesday afternoon. The other moves in the lineup has Ketel Marte in center, and Wilmer Flores at second base.
The Diamondbacks had some big changes over the off season, most notibly the trade of Paul Goldschmidt, and the losses of outfielder A.J. Pollock and pitcher Patrick Corbin. Other players gone from last years (82-80) team are Daniel Descalso, Jon Jay, Chris Owings, Brad Boxberger, and catcher Jeff Mathis.
One returner looks to play a big part of the upcoming season. That would be relief pitcher Archie Bradley, who loves to play the game as much as anybody you will ever see in an MLB uniform. I had a chance to sit down and chat with the D-Back fan favorite, and get his thoughts on the new look D-Backs. "We are missing the guys who are gone, but we have a great group that joined us and we are looking forward to getting out there," said Bradley. In regards to his onfield persona, "That is just who I am," said Archie in regards with his on field enthusiasm. "I have always loved to play the game."
A healthy Jake Lamb is moving from third base to first base this season and said he got to work with Paul Goldschmidt before he left to St. Louis. "That is the kinda guy Goldy is. Always willing to be helpful, a team player, and I appreciate him doing what he did to help me."
One new piece to the pitching puzzle is right hander Luke Weaver, who had a terrific spring, with an ERA of 1.04 in 17.1 innings. His control was very impressive with only two walks and 15 strikouts. At age 25, things look promising for the new Dback. "I am happy to be here. Things have been great so far. Really looking forward to the season getting started. I am feeling good and my stuff is working for me."
Three pitchers battled it out for the closer spot, but it was Greg Holland, who played last season with the Cardinals and Nationals that as named the closer by Lovullo. "Greg's stuff has really started to be productive, " Lovullo said. "His velocity has picked up, and he became sharper with his stuff, as he progressed this spring. His experience is a factor that I really considered as well." In regards to the other two, Archie Bradley and Yoshi Hirano, Lovullo said, " I plan on using both of those guys in the same roles as they had last season."
The late addition of outfielder Adam Jones, should bolster the offense, and the ability of Lovullo to plug in the right pieces based on the pitching opponent of the day. The optimistic manager had these thoughts about the upcoming season. "I feel we have the players to make some great things happen through the course of the season. Losing Paul, A.J., and Patrick are going to require some players to really step up. I have no doubt in the effort that the players on this team are going to put out each day."
Zach Greinke is scheduled to get the opening day start in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. The rest of the pitching rotation is as follows, Robbie Ray, Zack Godley, Luke Weaver, and Merrill Kelly, who went to Desert Mountain High School, played his college ball at Yavapai College and Arizona State. Kelly pitched the last three seasons in South Korea. The 29 year old had a 39-25 record with an ERA of 3.80. If you forgot about starter Tajuan Walker, he will start this season on the DL after having Tommy John surgery last season. Look for Walker's return in mid season.
Behind the plate, John Ryan Murphy will get the opening day start. Murphy started off well last season, and hopefully he can do the same. He will catch Zack Greinke for the first time in the season opener. Carson Kelly and Alex Avila will see their fair share behind the plate. Kelly also came over from St. Louis in the Paul Goldschmidt trade.The catching scenario will most likely change from day to day.
The set positions are with Eduardo Escobar at third, Nick Ahmed at short, and Jake Lamb at first. David Peralta will be in left field. Outfielder Jarrod Dyson is still out with an oblique injury, but should be back very soon. T.J. McFarland is out with a shoulder injury but should return sometime in April.
Anyway you slice it, the D-backs need a good start. There are not many giving them much of a chance, which eliminates the great expectations aspect of their season. If the majority of the team can play at, or above their potential, there is a chance to compete in the west. Time will tell.
On a side note, for those of you not paying full attention, the Oakland A's and Seattle Mariners already played two games in Japan, as Ichiro Suzuki retired after the second game. The Mariners won both. Meanwhile here in the states, let the games begin!
2019 Opening Day Schedule