SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Arizona manager Torey Lovullo says outfielder Steven Souza Jr. likely will open the season on the disabled list after straining his right pectoral muscle while diving for a baseball in a spring training game Wednesday night.
Lovullo says Souza will be out “a couple of weeks at least.”
The extent of the injury was discovered in an MRI on Thursday, and it was a relief to all concerned, especially to Souza, that it wasn’t worse.
“After last night I was obviously in a little bit of pain 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 gone too long.”
Souza was acquired from Tampa Bay in a three-team trade to add another big bat to help make up for the loss of J.D. Martinez from last year’s team. Souza batted .239 with 30 home runs and 78 RBIs last season.
“He’s a tough player. He tried to make a great play,” Lovullo said, “left it all out there and he’s just going to need to recuperate a little bit and get out there as soon as he possibly can.”
Lovullo said the first two internal candidates he’s looking at to replace Souza in right field are Chris Owings and Jarrod Dyson. Owings, originally a shortstop, has played in the outfield as well as at third and second. The speedy Dyson was signed as a free agent.
“C.O. was our starting shortstop last year, throws a quality at bat up there every single time,” Lovullo said. “Jarrod has been an everyday player at different portions of his career. So we feel very fortunate that we have that kind of depth now.”
Another possibility, Lovullo said, would be putting Yasmany Tomas in left field and moving Peralta to right. Tomas, who has had a good spring at the plate after being injured last year, is not a strong defender and has looked to be the odd man out if Arizona kept only four outfielders on its 25-man roster.
Souza has a reputation for aggressive defense and that didn’t change in a spring training game that Arizona eventually lost 14-0 to San Francisco.
“This is my 11th year playing and I’ve never been injured in spring training,” he said. “Hindsight obviously I need to be a little wiser about what I’m doing but it’s 11 years I dive and nothing like this has happened before. So I wasn’t counting on something happening just because this is a spring training game. I just play a certain way.”
Of the play, he said, “I landed and I felt something kind of weird in my shoulder, almost like a cramp, but not much pain or anything. When I got up to get the ball, my chest didn’t want to cooperate. I felt my pec kind of grab so I just kind of rolled over.”
Souza, hurting all night, imagined the worst.
“You can imagine when you can’t move your arm very well the situations try to play out in your mind,” he said. “It was pretty emotional last night, especially because I love the guys in that room over there. I love this team. And in my mind not being able to get out on the field with them was breaking my heart last night.”
He called his teammates unbelievable.
“I’ve been here, what, about a month now?” he said. “And I think every single guy in the locker room came in and asked me how I was doing, told me to keep my head up.”
Souza went to Lovullo Wednesday night to apologize for what he had done, and the manager said he would have none of it.
“You play the game at that speed and we love it,” Lovullo said he told him, “so please don’t apologize to me.”