Steve Souza says he planned to be a Tampa Bay Ray this season. He reported to Tampa’s camp on Feb. 19, only to be shipped to Arizona one day later.
When asked about his week last Friday, he called it “insane.” The slugger has yet to play in a game yet for the Arizona Diamondbacks as the team gives him time to acclimate to his new surroundings.
“I’ll share something with you guys that I don’t normally like to share,” said D-backs manager Torey Lovullo. “It was dinner time last night. I got a text from Steven (Souza). He said, 'I’m ready to go.' Please, please, please put me in the lineup tomorrow. I told him that if he wants to get his manager fired that would be something that I would agree to but under no circumstances are we going to.”
Souza hit 30 home runs in Tampa. He’s yet to hit over .250 in the Big Leagues. With J.D. Martinez's high profile signing with the Red Sox, Souza immediately gets the opportunity to fill Martinez’s spot in the lineup.
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He’s wearing Martinez's former No. 28. Fans might even mistake Souza for Martinez in the cage with a very similar hitting style. The big difference is he holds his hands a little higher, like his teammate Paul Goldschmidt.
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"He'd definitely much more polished than I am. I've got a lot to learn from him so I'm excited about that but that's not the first time I've heard that," said Souza about his new teammate. “He’s so humble, and so much here to help. Not just me, for everybody. That makes it easier to acclimate. I’ve been picking his brain about the pitchers in the division."
Souza has big goals with his move out west. He casually said when he arrived in the D-backs clubhouse that he’d like to be an all-around player, who can make a run at hitting .300. He’s written his goals down for the upcoming season, but that information won’t be shared with the public anytime soon.
“I started last year. A guy in Tampa, I call him Pa-Paw. He’s our chaplain's father-in-law. I sat down with him,” said Souza. “A very wise man. He told me John Wooden used to take a realistic look at his team and say, 'This is what our record is going to be at the end of the year.' Fold it up, write it down, forget about it. And go play and it was a lot of fun. I wasn't driven by it. I just thought realistically this is how it can go. It was fun."
If all goes to plan, the D-backs could pick up where they left off last season. If you think that’s a bold statement, listen to Souza’s new manager talk about his potential.
“I know him from sitting across the field in the other dugout,” said Lovullo. “He’s a pretty special guy that’s [sic] going to fit in this culture.”
Souza is set to make his Cactus League debut on Wednesday at Salt River Fields against the Rockies.
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