ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

D-backs RF Steven Souza Jr. receives good news, MRI shows pectoral strain

Mar 22, 2018, 8:23 PM

Arizona Diamondbacks' Steven Souza Jr. bats against the Cincinnati Reds during a spring baseball ga...

Arizona Diamondbacks' Steven Souza Jr. bats against the Cincinnati Reds during a spring baseball game in Scottsdale, Ariz., Wednesday, March 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Prepare for the worst but hope for the best, and fortunately for the Arizona Diamondbacks and right fielder Steven Souza Jr., it’s the latter.

An MRI on Thursday morning showed Souza suffered a right pectoral strain diving for a line drive the night before against the San Francisco Giants. He’ll miss at least a couple of weeks, meaning he’ll likely start the season on the disabled list, according to manager Torey Lovullo; but given how Souza felt at the time of the injury, all parties are breathing a sigh of relief.

“I was obviously in a little bit of pain (last night) and you never know what to think in those situations,” he said, “but after this morning, we got some good news that I won’t be down too long.”

Souza said when he landed face-first he “kind of felt something weird in my shoulder, almost like a cramp.” But once he attempted to get up to go after the baseball “my chest didn’t want to cooperate and I felt my pec kind of grab and so I just kind of rolled over and I knew it wasn’t right.”

Souza will be shut down for a period of time — “It’s not too long that I’m just laying around,” he said — before slowing ramping up his level of baseball-related activity.

At first, Souza admitted to being a bit scared. An injury to a player’s arm or shoulder can mean months rather than weeks on the sideline. Plus, Souza said he had never before suffered an injury to his upper body.

“This is my 11th year playing and I’ve never been injured in spring training. You know hindsight, obviously, I need to be a little wise about what I’m doing. But, 11 years I dive and nothing like this has ever happened before so I wasn’t counting on something happening just because it’s a spring training game. I just play the game a certain way,” he said.

“It’s frustrating to sit here and think about the fact that I’m likely not to be ready for Opening Day.”

Souza added he felt so bad when he arrived back at Salt River Fields that he apologized to Lovullo.

“And it kind of floored me because here was one of our best athletes and one of our best players saying he was sorry for going hard,” Lovullo said. “And I told him, ‘Don’t ever do that again. You just were doing what you know, you were doing what you do best and it’s the reason why we wanted to get you here. You play the game at that speed and that’s all you know and we love that so please don’t apologize to me.’

“It just happened. I don’t want to pull anybody back.”

Acquired from Tampa Bay as part of a three-team trade on Feb. 20, Souza was batting .222 (6-for-27) with two home runs and seven RBI in 11 games this spring. He was expected to be the D-backs’ starting right fielder. And now, with Opening Day one week away, the team is forced to go with Plan B.

“We still haven’t finalized that,” Lovullo said.

The most obvious candidates are Jarrod Dyson and Chris Owings, the latter of which started in right field Thursday night against the Chicago White Sox. Rey Fuentes, Chris Herrmann and Yasmany Tomas are also options, so too is David Peralta and then filling the left-field spot.

“We’ve discussed that, too,” Lovullo said. “We just want to put the best team out there, the best eight and we feel like we have some good candidates here.”

Meanwhile, Souza will have to wait to make his regular-season D-backs debut. It’s a wait, however, that his teammates may have made just a little bit easier by their actions.

“I think every single guy in that locker room came up to me and asked how I was doing, telling me to keep my head up. It sounds like remedial stuff but those guys don’t know me that well. I mean, I do know some guys in there but for everybody to take the time to come over and ask me how I was doing,” he said.

“They just didn’t say, ‘Hope you’re OK.’ They stopped and talked to me. It meant a lot to me and it just shows how special this team is. They all just said keep your head up and we got you and we’re ready for when you come back.”

BASE HITS

— Dyson, Peralta, third baseman Jake Lamb and infielder Ketel Marte played in a minor league game on Thursday. They were each “working on some very specific things that we asked them to work on,” Lovullo said.

In addition, catcher Jeff Mathis, who has been battling back tightness, “had a really good day…is feeling very, very good,” according to Lovullo, after getting five at-bats on one of the backfields.

— The D-backs are still discussing the next step for right-hander Zack Greinke. He reported no issues following his Wednesday outing.

“We want to get him to start again, one more time before the season officially starts. When that day is we haven’t yet determined,” Lovullo said.

Also, Reliever Randall Delgado is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Sunday.

— And then there were 34. The D-backs optioned right-hander Matt Koch to Triple-A Reno, leaving 34 players in camp. Koch had a 4.40 ERA in six spring games, including four starts.

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