PHOENIX — Tim Locastro.
The unofficial ball magnet of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
In just 55 plate appearances this season, the outfielder’s been a pin cushion for opposing pitchers, getting plunked a total of nine times. He even had a hat-trick of sorts May 24, getting pegged three times against the Giants.
Hit by pitch, also known as “The Locastro.” pic.twitter.com/U2KQJ2XMPS
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) May 25, 2019
And while it’s never a great feeling to get nailed — at any level of baseball — Locastro’s overlooking the pain for the positives of his style of play.
“Good hitters have the ability to slow things down and determine where that ball’s going to go,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said of the outfielder ahead of Sunday’s game against the New York Mets. “He’s got a really good idea of that.
“Part two of it is that he doesn’t get out of the way and he’s fearless and he’s just going to go ahead and let the ball hit him. It’s hard to do. It takes a lot of courage to let a 96-mph two-seam fastball that’s wrapped in barbed wire to let it hit you.
“He knows what the at-bat’s asking for, it’s part of his game and it’s all about on-base percentage” Lovullo added. “I don’t care how it happens and he’s a catalyst and he does a good job of that.”
Entering play Sunday, Locastro has proven to be a key piece for the D-backs in the short time he’s been with the team.
In a total of 55 plate appearances (20 games), Locastro has 12 hits, including three doubles and a triple, to go along with four RBI, 11 runs scored and five stolen bases (second on the team behind Jarrod Dyson’s 12). He’s averaging .293 from the plate and has a .473 OBP (first among D-backs hitters). Locastro’s also been walked five times in addition to his nine HBP.
Saturday night highlighted both sides of Locastro’s play from the plate.
While he got hit for a ninth time, now tied for third among MLB hitters, the outfielder made the opposing team pay in a big way with a swing of the bat.
Facing a five-infielder shift, Locastro drove in the game winning RBI single in the 11th inning, scoring pinch-hitter Kevin Cron for the 6-5 walk-off victory.
“It’s nice to see him win the game to getting hit by a pitch, certainly,” Lovullo said of Locastro’s late-game heroics. “If we could all just block out all that noise from time to time, we’d be a better version of ourselves, and that speaks volumes of what he’s trying to do.
“He was so focused on getting an up-ball and getting it to the outfield that he didn’t even know what was going on. … He got to hit his pitch and not the pitcher’s pitch and it was a perfect job of execution yesterday by him.”
Lovullo provided a few updates regarding injured players David Peralta and Jake Lamb, who had eight and five plate appearances, respectively, in extended spring training work.
— Tyler Drake (@Tdrake4sports) June 2, 2019
“David had a good day yesterday as well, he’s going to following that up with some tracking and nothing else,” Lovullo said. “And then tomorrow we’re going to see how he feels when he comes into the ballpark. I’m optimistic that his return is going to be sooner than later and i know he wants to be out there, I think he’s very eager to be out there.”
Peralta was placed on the 10-day IL on May 24 after experiencing inflammation in his right AC joint.
Lovullo is optimistic that Peralta could be ready for Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Another injured D-back is also trending upward.
“As I mentioned yesterday, Jake Lamb had a really good day yesterday with those five at-bats,” Lovullo said of the infielder. “It was limited, no base-running, but today came in and feels good and is very encouraged. We’ll resume some more activity here tomorrow at Chase, more baseball activity and he’s trending toward a really, really positive outcome.”
Lamb was placed on the 10-day IL with a left quad strain back in April.
But while getting players back onto the field is critical for the team, the skipper isn’t going to try to force the issue.
“Once again we don’t want to put these athletes in the position where if they take a swing or two, they end up going backwards, so we want to get them in the right spot at the right time to come in there and be the best versions of themselves,” Lovullo said.
– Lovullo added that starting pitcher Zack Greinke was “feeling good” after experiencing new tightness in Saturday’s win over the Mets.