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What does the Steven Souza Jr. injury mean for the Diamondbacks?

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Once again, the D-backs must adjust on the fly as the season starts

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It was a visibly shaken and emotional Torey Lovullo who took the interview podium at Chase Field last night to discuss the Steven Souza Jr. injury.

Mike Hazen and Lovullo had just been talking about mandating all players use metal cleats earlier in the day. The timing of that conversation and then last night’s injury was something that stuck in Torey’s mind and he mentioned it in the post game presser.

Obviously, the turf had nothing to do with the play itself as it happened on dirt and on home plate. However there was some discussion on Twitter last night about whether he was wearing plastic cleats, because he prefers that on the artificial turf. But according to one source there are actually a lot of players playing on plastic cleats that play on grass turf too. In fact, Bryce Harper hurt his knee tripping on first base playing in plastic cleats.

Said Torey:

I saw the tracks on home plate, I saw the tracks leaving home plate and he just slid across home plate. You know, these athletes are so amazing and strong, you put extra force on some cleats, and you just don’t know how it’s going to respond. We have practiced hitting home plate and the bases a hundred times. That's what so heartbreaking about this.

Asked about the parallel to last season with Souza getting hurt in the pre-season as well

My conversations with him had lead me to believe he was ready for a tremendous year because of the frustration he experienced last year. It’s a terrible scenario for somebody that fought as hard as he did last year, to get back to where he was playing this year, and he had a mindset that he was going to go out and be very very good for us. That's what is heartbreaking to me. I know a lot of the personal conversations ...it’s just too bad.

I know he was not the most popular player here. I have criticized him myself, for what I viewed as an 'out of control' style of play. But there is no doubt the team was counting on a rebound from Souza as part of the formula to fill the breach on offense left by Goldy’s departure. Obviously he wasn’t going to ever put up a 145 OPS+. But if clicking right, 115-120 OPS+ with 20+ homers was always a decent possibility with him, as he’d done before.

I happened to be visiting with Asteroid, her husband and AZPerson at the time of the injury, and I confessed to feeling a bit unhappy with myself that, within half a minute of my brain registering what had happened on the field, I started thinking about the playing time projection spreadsheet I had just posted on Twitter. However I wasn’t the only one; within seconds questions popped up all over the web about the status of Socrates Brito. As it turns out Socrates was already put on waivers - most likely sometime after Sunday’s game - and teams have 72 hours to put in a claim. So we’ll need to wait until Wednesday afternoon or evening to know his status and availability to the team.

Torey mentioned he had similar thoughts shortly after Steven was taken off the field. Once he had attended to Souza and comforted him, and the medical team got there he said

The common things go through your mind. Where does that leave us, what happens, how is he going to be, what's the scenario, who’s evaluating him, all the same things that everybody is thinking in the stadium, I’m not exempt from those feelings. I know you guys (the media) want to know what the next steps are.....we don’t know.

It’s not what you plan for. You get this close to the end of spring training, you work hard to get your roster set, and then somebody that you’re going to be counting on goes down

He did give us a few clues however.

I feel like we have good coverage right now with Ketel playing centerfield as effectively as he has been. With him and Dyson in the middle, and Peralta and Jones on the corners, I think we’ll be ok for right now. Those are some really good baseball players. We are lucky we have that depth built in, but we need to talk about reinforcements.

So as of this moment, we don’t know enough to fill in all the blanks. How bad is the injury? Is it a season-ender? It sure looked like it, but even if not, he is clearly going to start the season on the DL and will probably miss extended time. It would be shocking if it’s less than a month.

The team options are several,

1.) Brito clears waivers, and they reinstate him to the 40 man roster, which currently sits at 39, and he’s on the opening day roster Thursday.

2.) The team calls up Ildemaro Vargas to back up in the infield. I actually think this scenario is highly likely, since Marte will be playing even more outfield than they were projecting. This is the scenario I went with for today

3.) The other possibility is if they can’t get Brito back, and don’t call up Vargas, then they add an outfielder to the 40 man. Matt Szczur may be a candidate. They seem to like him.

Last night I started plugging in Vargas’ name for additional playing time in my spreadsheet, and in fact checking just now before submitting this article I see the following :

And from a later series of tweets by @nickpiecoro we also learn that :

So with that, scenario 2 seems to be where they are headed, at least for the time being.

Here then is my playing time spreadsheet. I welcome comments, thoughts and suggestions. I can’t promise it, but I may make some changes based on further feedback, especially if they sign an external option over the next day or so. I plan to finalize this by tomorrow night, and will be writing another article with final pre season projections, payroll, and incorporating the Over Under poll data as well.

UPDATE: It’s much worse than we initially feared, as Souza tore multiple ligaments when he slipped on home plate last night.