D-Backs lose J.D. Martinez replacement Steven Souza Jr. to shoulder injury

Mark TownsendYahoo Sports Contributor
Big League Stew

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Steven Souza Jr. left Wednesday’s Cactus League game against the San Francisco Giants with a strained right shoulder, the team has announced. An MRI on Thursday will help the team determine how much time Souza is expected to miss, but it seems safe to rule him out for the team’s season opener one week from today.

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Souza suffered the injury while making a diving attempt on a Brandon Belt run-scoring double in the fourth inning. The 28-year-old outfielder is known for making spectacular plays in the outfield — including a similar diving grab to save Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter in 2014 — and for always going all out on the field. Spring training is no exception, even in a game Arizona was trailing by seven runs.

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Unfortunately for Souza and the Diamondbacks, the extra effort on Wednesday could prove costly.

Arizona acquired Souza from the Tampa Bay Rays on Feb. 20 in a three-team deal that also involved the New York Yankees. He’s being counted on to help make up for the loss of outfielder J.D. Martinez, who signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox.

Souza can’t match Martinez’s 40-homer power, but proved capable of hitting the long ball in 2017 when he launched a career-high 30. That nearly doubled his output over the previous three seasons put together.

Souza is a certain defensive upgrade over Martinez, which was good news for Arizona’s pitching staff. He had a plus-9 Out Above Average, which is the metric Statcast uses to determine an outfielder’s range. Souza was tied for 11th in that category last season.

Steven Souza Jr., the Diamondbacks hopeful replacement for J.D. Martinez, could miss time with spring training shoulder injury.
Steven Souza Jr., the Diamondbacks hopeful replacement for J.D. Martinez, could miss time with spring training shoulder injury.

Unfortunately, injuries are the biggest thing that have held the 28-year-old back in his MLB career. After battling through injuries in 2016, he underwent offseason hip surgery. Now he’s facing an uncertain beginning to the 2018 season.

If there’s a silver lining for Arizona, it’s that they also signed veteran Jarrod Dyson to be their fourth outfielder last month. Though mostly a speed and defense player, Dyson should fill in adequately for as long as he’s needed. Arizona’s other starting outfielders are 2015 All-Star A.J. Pollock and David Peralta.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Yahoo Sports Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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