D-backs’ Souza looks to bounce back after challenging 2018 season

Feb 22, 2019, 6:01 AM
Arizona Diamondbacks' Steven Souza Jr. hits an RBI double against the San Francisco Giants during t...
Arizona Diamondbacks' Steven Souza Jr. hits an RBI double against the San Francisco Giants during the fourth inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

When the Diamondbacks acquired Steven Souza Jr. from the Rays last February, they were hoping to get the guy who hit a career-best 30 home runs and had a very impressive .810 OPS in 2017.

That did not happen, however, due to a number of different reasons. A shoulder injury pushed back Souza’s debut with the team until early May, a pectoral injury sidelined him for a more than a month during the middle portion of the season, and after returning, he never got into the groove he hoped he would.

Souza discussed his struggles last season with Bickley and Marotta on 98.7 F.M. Arizona’s Sports Station on Thursday morning, and offered up some insight on the toll that it took on him throughout the year.

“It was the most [frustrating season] of my career, for sure,” Souza said. “It had the highest expectations, which I enjoyed, it was one of the best teams talent-wise that I’d been on in a while, and it just didn’t go the way I had imagined it.

“It kept me mentally strong, and I feel like if I can go through what I went through last year, I can go through anything,” Souza added. “It was just a lot of ups and downs. There’s already ebbs and flows in production throughout the year that you hope to minimize, but when you put that on top of injury and other ebbs and flows, it’s a lot to handle for anybody, and I’m looking to put that behind me. I’m healthy and ready to go, and I’m super excited for this year.”

Souza also discussed his thought process in dealing with adversities such as the ones he went through in 2018, and trying not to get too high or too low in any situation thrown his way.

“I think the reality is that we’re all coming out of a trial or we’re going through one or we’re about to enter one, so if you keep that mindset, you really can work through it,” Souza said. “It’s really hard in the middle of a trial because our culture right now is trying to avoid hard times at all cost, but I’m a firm believer that it’s when you struggle or suffer a little bit that your character grows and you become the man or woman that you are today.

“That’s where I’ve really enjoyed the struggle, because I come out like, ‘I’m a stronger person in this area because of it.'”

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo also joined Bickley and Marotta on Thursday afternoon, where he stressed how important Souza is to the team’s plans this year.

“I said [to Souza] basically, ‘Look, last year was maybe a throwaway year, but not because you did anything wrong. You got hurt, you were playing uphill all year long, you never got your mojo, you never got into a rhythm, and that’s OK. But it’s about being strong of mind and body and being ready for a healthy 2019,'” Lovullo said.

“We need him, and I explained that to him,” Lovullo added. “We need him to go out there and be as good as Steven Souza can be. We know what he’s projected to do and we have a very good feel for the type of game that he can play, but now it’s up to him to go there and execute without putting too much pressure on himself.

“He’s going to have a terrific year, and we need that to happen to get to where we want to get to.”

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