Steven Souza Looking Ahead to 2020
When Steven Souza came to Spring Training in 2019 he was ready to be the guy with the big bat and to be the full-time right fielder. This was the season he was finally going deliver on what the Arizona Diamondbacks thought they were getting when they acquired him from the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Trade to Arizona
In February of 2018 Souza was the centerpiece of a three-team trade involving the Diamondbacks, the Rays, and the New York Yankees. Souza was tapped to fill the spot left by J. D. Martinez, who’d left as a free agent. Souza was coming off a 2017 season in which he played in 148 games with the Rays. He hit 30 home runs and had 78 RBI along with 84 walks and 16 stolen bases.
Injury Filled 2018 Season
However, in a Spring Training game in 2018 Souza dove for a ball and injured his right pectoral muscle. That injury landed him on the IL. He ended up missing the entire month of April and did not make his debut until May 3. Then, on May 22, he landed on the IL for the second time with the same injury. Souza ended that season playing in only 72 games with 272 at-bats.
Another Spring Training Injury
Souza had been given a clean bill of health when Spring Training began in 2019. Souza was off to a good start, even though it was just exhibition games. He had a pair of homeruns and a double to go along with seven walks. He was looking forward to being the everyday right fielder.
Souza’s season, however, was once again cut short. During an exhibition game, he suffered an injury in a bizarre play. Souza slipped as he crossed home plate. His leg hyper-extended and he tumbled head over heels. After the tests were concluded he had an ACL tear, an LCL tear, and a partial PCL tear in his left knee. This time he missed the whole season.
After the Surgery
Souza had surgery in March 2019. Since then, he has reported no setbacks or soreness and has been doing drills, including running and sprinting. His recovery appears to be ahead of schedule. He can begin baseball activities, such as hitting and just getting the feel back from live pitching even if it comes from a pitching
Souza Has Talent
Souza has shown the ability to be a power hitter. He did that in 2017 and in his few 2018 at-bats. He is a decent base runner and an above average defender with a strong arm. Souza, 30, also has the intangibles that made the Diamondbacks trade for him with his locker-room personality being the biggest. His unfortunate injuries have held back his Diamondbacks career.
Souza agreed to a $4.125 million salary to avoid arbitration for 2019 and will remain under team control through the 2020 season. Souza will be eligible for his third year of arbitration as well. He still has some quality years ahead. He just has to show that he can remain healthy and avoid the season-ending injuries that have plagued him. Maybe he will be able to start that demonstration in the 2020 season.