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Reno Aces pitcher Jon Duplantier has funk in his arm.

“He’s just funky, no other way to put it,” Aces pitching coach Jeff Bajenaru said. “He has some nastiness to him and hitters don’t like it.”

The Arizona Diamondbacks top pitching prospect went three innings, surrendering one earned run on three hits and three strikeouts in the Aces’ 9-5 loss to the Fresno Grizzlies on Wednesday. He has a 1.04 ERA and 10 strikeouts with Reno this season.

Duplantier’s unconventional approach on the mound all starts with his long-arm, low three-quarter slot delivery. Once the right-hander winds up, he hides the ball behind his head before he delivers a strike to the plate, a routine he’s developed growing up in Katy, Texas.

“I’ve been throwing this way forever,” he said. “There’s pictures of me at 10 years old throwing the way I throw now. I didn’t realize it was all that weird until one of my teammates told me in college.”

Opposing batters can’t hide from his devastating four-pitch arsenal. He gets ahead of the count with a mid-90s two-seam fastball with plenty of sink that runs off the plate. In two-strike situations, he’ll showcase a hard-breaking slider to whiff right-handed hitters. Duplantier also has developed a mid-80s change up and effective curve to force ground balls.

His third strikeout on Wednesday night was an 85-mph slider that broke at the hands of Fresno third baseman Matt Reynolds.

“My off-speed stuff is huge,” he said. “Guys are throwing real hard so my slider can and breaking ball can take a load off my fastball and it can add to it. It’s all just a means of keeping the hitter off balance. … They have to honor one or both, and they complement each other really nice in the way they move.”

Duplantier, 24, who pitched with Double-A Jackson last season, made his big-league debut for the Diamondbacks on April 1. He posted a rare three-inning save with two strikeouts against the San Diego Padres.

“I had no idea I even got the save,” he said. “Now it’s one of the coolest moments of my life.”

Duplantier appeared in two games with the Dbacks before being optioned to Triple-A Reno on April 9. He’s returned to his starting role with the Aces on a limited pitch count, throwing 97 total pitches in 8.2 innings pitched this season.

“The mentality is different between the two,” he said. “In the bullpen, it’s about getting the out at all costs and go to work. Starting, it’s a little bit more like a chess game. You have to go back to the at-bat before and the next (player) in the order. It’s a whole different ball game.”

Duplantier’s arm hasn’t only been seen on a diamond. He was a Houston high school quarterback for the Silver Lakes High School Spartans in 2012 and 2013. The two-sport star lettered in football and baseball during his junior and senior seasons.

Duplantier had a smooth touch with the football compared to his mechanical release on the mound. His 6-foot-3, 224-pound frame was a good size for the gridiron.

“I never threw footballs the way I throw a baseball,” he chuckled. “I had a tight, compact quick stroke with it. My arm was pretty stock when I launched (the ball) downfield. I could stand in there and take a hit, as well.”

Multiple injuries to his collarbone and wrist forced Duplantier to stick with one pair of cleats. A torn meniscus ended his senior football season with the Spartans and forced him to permanently stick to baseball.

“It was a tough decision, but I couldn’t take the beating of both (sports),” he said. “Football was fun, but baseball was my real passion. So I just stayed with that.”

The decision paid off handsomely. Arizona selected Duplantier in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft after three college seasons with the Rice University Owls.

The right-hander has been and up-and-coming star since he was assigned to the Dbacks’ minor league system. Duplantier has not recorded a higher ERA than 2.69 over three seasons in High-A, Advanced-A and with Double-A Jackson. He was a Futures Game Selection during his time with the Visalia Rawhide in 2017.

Currently bouncing between the Dbacks and the Aces, Duplantier is getting used to the Biggest Little City.

“When you drive around here, the scenery catches your eye,” he said. “It’s beautiful out here. I’m not used to seeing so many mountains coming from Texas, let alone mountains with snow on them. … I’ve sent my parents a bunch of pictures.”

Duplantier may not be with the Aces for long. His strong arm and impressive stuff can help Arizona’s depleted bullpen or slot in the back-end of the team’s starting rotation.

He is the 69th ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline.

“He had a great spring training and opened a lot of eyes,” pitching coach Bajenaru said. “He works his butt of and is a competitor at heart. … I hope I don’t see him that much this year. I want to see him up there.”

Tomas goes yard in Aces loss

Yasmany Tomas’ eighth-inning homer was too little too late for the Aces.
Tahoe Onstage

Yasmany Tomas

Tomas jumped on a hanging fastball and launched it over the party zone in right field. He has six home runs on the season, tied with Kevin Cron for the team lead. Tomas went 1-for-4 with two RBIs on Wednesday.

The Aces had nine hits. Tim Locastro went 1-for-4 with a triple and RBIs. He made a diving catch in center field in the second inning. Locastro was optioned back to Triple-A on April 20.

Reno catcher Tyler Heineman made his first home start, going 2-for-3 with one RBI. Like Benito Santiago throwing from his knees, he erased two baserunners attempting to steal third base.

Second baseman Juniel Querecuto went 2-for-4 with an RBI. The ex-San Francisco Giant, shortstop Kelby Tomlinson, added two hits.

Fresno scored three runs in the first and fifth innings. Carter Kieboom heated things up on a breezy 75-degree night. The No. 24 ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, Kieboom went 2-for-4 with a homer, double and two RBIs.

Grizzlies center fielder Collin Cowgill made a return to Greater Nevada Field. The outfielder had 13 homers and 70 RBIs at a .354 clip in 2011 for Reno. Cowgill finished 0-for-4 on Wednesday against his former team.

Fresno plated three runs in the first inning off Kieboom’s RBI double. The Aces responded with a two-run third inning off Locastro’s RBI triple to right-center.

The Grizzlies added two more in the fourth. Reno chipped into its deficit with another run in the bottom of the fourth. Fresno pulled away with three runs in the fifth and another in the seventh. Tomas’ two-run blast in the eighth marked the final runs for the Aces.
Tahoe Onstage

Taylor Widener starts for Reno on Thursday.

Notes: Paid attendance was 3,054. …Reno has surrendered 18 runs in the first inning and a team-high 19 runs in the second. The team has a combined 6.32 ERA thus far this season. The team is outscored 18-4 in the sixth inning. … Former Reno Aces’ first baseman Christian Walker is off to a scorching start with the Dbacks. He leads the MLB with a 70.6 percent of hard-hit balls. … The Aces are 81-81 all-time against the Grizzlies. They are 48-34 all-time against Fresno at Greater Nevada Field.

On Deck: Reno, 5-14, faces Fresno for the second game of the five-game series Thursday at 6:35 p.m. Right-hander Taylor Widener is expected to start for the Aces. Henderson Alvarez will get the nod for the Grizzlies.

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Top of the ninth inning, bases loaded, no outs.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were threatening to swipe a win away from the Arizona Diamondbacks, who led 6-4 entering the final frame on Aug. 31. LA outfielder Matt Beaty was up against Arizona’s Archie Bradley, and he hit a sharp, low line drive towards the 3-4 hole.

First baseman Christian Walker dove to his right and snagged the ball on a short hop with his backhand. He rose to a knee and delivered a strike to shortstop Nick Ahmed at second base, who turned the double play as Chase Field erupted in the background. Bradley got the next hitter out and Arizona won its sixth-straight game 6-5.

Walker has never known to be a plus defender in the past, Ahmed noted on the Sports Info Solutions Podcast. But the 2018 Gold Glover discussed with host Mark Simon about how that has changed this season.
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“He is incredibly improved and underrated defensively,” Ahmed said. “Going back to spring training and the offseason, he was always picking my brain about defense and his footwork and hands. He has made every routine play, picked balls out of the dirt for us and he’s made phenomenal plays. He is a Gold Glover in my eyes.”

That is high praise from someone who has had stout defender Paul Goldschmidt to throw to for most of his career. But, Ahmed may not be wrong, as the numbers suggest that Walker could be a dark horse to contend for the award.

Walker is third among National League first basemen in defensive runs saved with five. This stat measures how many runs a defender saves his team compared to an average player. He only trails Goldschmidt and Cincinnati’s Joey Votto who each have six. There is a real possibility that Walker could end the season on top of that list.

The D-backs first baseman is also third at his position in the NL in UZR/150 (ultimate zone rating per 150 games). This metric may look alien to some, but Fan Graphs has a simple explanation for it.

Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) is one of the most widely used, publicly available defensive statistics. UZR puts a run value to defense, attempting to quantify how many runs a player saved or gave up through their fielding prowess (or lack thereof).

It takes into account range and errors among other aspects, and in this category, Walker trails just Goldschmidt and Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo.

The increased awareness of defensive metrics helps Walker’s chances immensely but there are some that aren’t as favorable. He has a solid fielding percentage of 99.3%, the sixth-highest mark in the NL, and also has more errors than other contenders like Goldshmidt, Rizzo and Votto.

But, his ability to make plays on harder to get to balls makes him one of the best defensive first basemen in the NL and has helped the D-backs in some big moments like in that win over the Dodgers. That makes him a good candidate to be nominated for a Gold Glove this season.

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The Astros announced their new-look coaching staff for the 2019 season Wednesday — including a series of hires necessitated by the loss of three coaches being hired away by other organizations. Last season’s first base coach, Alex Cintron, will shift to the role of hitting coach — a role he’ll share with Troy Snitker (the son of Braves manager Brian Snitker). Houston also announced the hiring of Don Kelly as the new first base coach and Josh Miller as the team’s bullpen coach.

Cintron, 40 next month, is entering his third season as a coach at the Major League level — each of which has come with the Astros. A veteran of nine Major League seasons as a player, he’s previously worked as the team’s first base coach and as a Spanish translator/advance scout/assistant coach on A.J. Hinch’s 2016 staff. He’ll pair with Snitker to comprise a duo of hitting coaches. Snitker, somewhat remarkably, is just 29 years of age and is moving up from Double-A Corpus Christi, where he served as the Hooks’ hitting coach.

Kelly, too, should be a familiar name for baseball fans, having spent nine seasons in the Majors himself. From 2007-16, the now 38-year-old Kelly played every position on the diamond (including pitcher) while serving as a super-utility player — primarily for the Tigers. His playing career ended quite recently, but he’s already spent two seasons on the Tigers’ pro scouting staff prior to taking this role — his first as a coach.

The 39-year-old Miller was Houston’s minor league pitching coordinator in 2018 — his third season in that role. He’s also worked as a scout for the club and as a minor league pitching coach.

Houston’s coaching staff took a hit this offseason, as three of their coaches took a promotion to join a new organization. Former assistant hitting coach Jeff Albert was hired by the Cardinals as their hitting coach, while bullpen coach Doug White was hired as the new pitching coach for the division-rival Angels. Hitting coach Dave Hudgens, meanwhile, was hired by the Blue Jays as the bench coach under newly minted manager Charlie Montoyo.

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We missed an installment from good ol’ Kenny Rosenthal yesterday. He’s back today in full force (unlike another great rumor source, Buster Olney, who posted nothing really new in his blog today).

The A’s, once considered the best bet for Barry Bonds, are no longer interested in the indicted slugger. Rosenthal thinks it’s likely that Bond’s trial will start after Opening Day, causing him to miss time regardless of the verdict. And then there’s the whole prison issue.

The Rangers spoke to the Mariners at the GM meetings regarding the availability of Ben Broussard. Talks didn’t really go anywhere, since Broussard is a non-tender candidate. The Mariners might not be too keen on offering Broussard a raise over the $3.55 million he made last year, in which he managed just 264 plate appearances.

Teams, including the Dodgers, might be more interested in Aaron Rowand over Torii Hunter because of one year and $30 million. Rowand is seeking five years, $60 million, while Hunter wants six and $90 mil. Hunter is far more proven a commodity, though, and is more athletic than Rowand. The negative in Hunter’s corner is that he’s two years older than Rowand.

He mentions that the Cubs are interested in Luis Castillo and Kaz Matsui, both switch hitters, to play second base next year. The Astros and Mets are also in on Castillo, while the Rockies would like to re-sign Kaz — though they have a number of internal candidates, including Ian Stewart.

The Padres are considering offering arbitration to Mike Cameron and Mike Barrett. Barrett seems like a no-brainer. He’s a Type A free agent, and would probably be worth a one-year deal. He could be pricey, though, as Ivan Rodriguez and Jorge Posada are making $13 million or more. Cameron also makes sense. The Padres still need a center fielder for 2008, and they’d do well to sign Cam to a one-year deal should he accept arbitration. Otherwise, the supplemental pick would be nice.

Reggie Sanders will consider retirement if he can’t land a deal with the Dodgers, Giants, or Padres. Sanders missed most of the 2007 season with hamstring problems.

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Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley left the team’s April 28 game at Chase Field against the Colorado Rockies after a line drive hit him in the face. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list April 29 with a sinus fracture.

The team reinstated him May 16.

Continue for updates.
Bradley Reinstated
Saturday, May 16

The Diamondbacks announced they activated Bradley from the disabled list ahead of Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

On April 30, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com passed along comments from Bradley, who noted he suffered nothing more than a sinus fracture as a result of the line drive that hit him in the face:

No fracture of the jaw, no fracture of the orbital bone. I guess I have a slight fracture of the sinus, which I’m not even sure what that is. If this was a playoff race or a playoff game, I could pitch tomorrow if the team needed it.

The Diamondbacks announced they placed Bradley on the disabled list with a right sinus fracture and that pitcher Enrique Burgos was recalled from Double-A Mobile.

The line drive came off the bat of Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez on April 28, and Bradley left the game after the scary moment in the second inning. David Kadlubowski of the Arizona Republic provided a look at Bradley after the play:

Bradley tweeted a picture of himself after the game, commenting on how bad things looked:

Fox Sports’ Jack Magruder reported that Bradley went to the hospital for further testing and never lost consciousness. Magruder also added that Bradley had no concussion but did have sinus cavity swelling.

Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com noted just how hard Gonzalez’s hit truly was:

Fortunately for Bradley and the fans in attendance, things could have been much worse. Piecoro described the aftermath:

Bradley has been a pleasant surprise for the Diamondbacks in the early going and boasted a 2-0 record, 1.45 ERA and 0.96 WHIP entering play April 28.

Given Piecoro’s account, Bradley will ideally continue his hot start. However, it may take some time for him to return to peak physical health and overcome any lingering concerns about another line drive back up the box in future starts.

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Outfielder Steven Souza Jr., who remains on the rehab trail following major surgery on his left knee, will be making his first road trip of the season this week.

Souza is traveling with the Diamondbacks to Cincinnati, where he will be examined on Friday by Reds team physician Dr. Tim Kremchek, who performed Souza’s surgery in April.

While he is hoping Kremchek clears him to ramp up activities, Souza made it sound like a return to the field this season remains a long shot.

“I think we’ll get a better idea after this road trip of where we’re at,” Souza said. “I think ultimately I don’t want to risk something this year to hurt something for next year. I think that’s the risk/reward.”

Souza said the equation could change if the team remains alive into October, but he also didn’t want to get too far ahead of himself until he hears how Kremchek feels the recovery is going.

Souza slipped on home plate and tore up his knee in the Diamondbacks’ second-to-last exhibition game prior to Opening Day. Souza tore his ACL and LCL, partially tore his PCL and tore his posterior lateral capsule.

Given the severity of the injury Souza said things couldn’t be going better in rehab.

“We haven’t had any setbacks,” he said. “Everything has been amazing. We had an MRI at four months and, straight from Kremchek’s words, all the ligaments look pristine. The healing looks like it’s taking place. I’m not sore after doing everything; nothing really swells up. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome at this point.”

Souza has been doing “running drills,” which he said falls somewhere between jogging and sprinting. He hasn’t begun making cuts or turns. He also hasn’t started to swing the bat.

Assuming he doesn’t make it back this season, Souza said he is weighing his options when it comes to ways to get at-bats in the fall or winter, saying the instructional league as well as professional leagues in Latin America could be possibilities.

Short hops

Lovullo said right-hander Taijuan Walker will throw a bullpen session on Friday, his first since suffering a shoulder capsule injury in May as he neared a return from Tommy John surgery. Walker is hoping to return from the injured list at some point this month to at least log an inning in relief.

*Right-handers Luke Weaver and Yoshihisa Hirano also threw bullpen sessions on Wednesday, Lovullo said.

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OAKLAND — The A’s will have to find a new third-base coach for the upcoming season.

Matt Williams has accepted a job in Korea to manage the Kia Tigers of the KBO League. Oakland’s former third-base coach will receive a three-year deal, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Williams, 53, spent the last two seasons not only coaching third for the A’s, but he also served as a resource for the group of infielders who made up one of the best defenses in baseball. This will be Williams’ first managerial opportunity since a two-year stint with the Nationals from 2014-15 that saw him earn National League Manager of the Year honors in his first season.

This might not be the only departure from A’s manager Bob Melvin’s coaching staff this offseason. Quality-control coach Mark Kotsay and bench coach Ryan Christenson also are expected to garner interest for vacant manager openings around Major League Baseball.

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Former MLB pitcher and more recent conspiracy theorist Curt Schilling—who, among other things, has publicly floated the notion that the Parkland shooting was a hoax—is thinking about running for Congress, and Donald Trump is into it.

“Curt Schilling, a great pitcher and patriot, is considering a run for Congress in Arizona. Terrific!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday, tagging Fox & Friends, shortly after they aired a segment about the potential campaign.

After he broached the idea in a radio interview on Sunday, Schilling confirmed in a statement to the Arizona Republic that he is “absolutely considering” running against one of the state’s five Democrats in the House of Representatives.

“The state is not the state I grew up in,” he added. “Making Arizona citizens of EVERY Race, religion and sexual orientation 2nd class citizens to illegal immigrants is about as anti-American as it gets.”

As a player, Schilling is probably best remembered for pitching with a bloodied sock in the Boston Red Sox’s American League Championship series against the New York Yankees in 2004. In select Massachusetts sports bars, the sock wasn’t just about Schilling’s determination; it was also somehow about how hard, say, Tom Brady plays.

Since his retirement in 2009, Schilling has put on a sort of masterclass in losing the plot. He’d already campaigned for George W. Bush during his playing career, but without the rigors of a long pro baseball season, he had new time on his hands, and seemingly has spent much of it online. In 2015, ESPN suspended him from baseball-analyst duties for tweeting a meme that compared Muslims to Nazis. The following year, the network fired him for sharing a transphobic meme on Facebook. Other greatest hits include his collection of Nazi memorabilia that surfaced in 2015 and being sued by the state of Rhode Island over a video game company he founded that went south. (Schilling and other executives agreed to pay the state $2.5 million in a settlement.)

It’s too soon to say whether Schilling is actually thinking of running. He told the Arizona Republic he is “not ready to do any of that right now.” He was trending on Twitter after the news of his supposed run broke, and it’s easy to see this as an effort to drum up publicity for some new phase of his career, especially given that video game misadventure. Plus, he’s pulled this before, in a different state: In 2016 he publicly weighed challenging Elizabeth Warren for her Senate seat in Massachusetts. Warren’s entirely blasé response when asked about it then was recirculated on Tuesday—a sunnier spot in the day’s Schilling rehashes.

For now it might be best to focus on his support of the QAnon theory. Like Foster the People, he was just asking questions, and encouraging you to do your own research. And it can be tough to find your lane in a post–pro sports career. Not everyone moves as gracefully into one as A-Rod. But as long as we’re just asking questions, it’s worth noting that there’s a longstanding Yankees-fan conspiracy that Schilling put ketchup on his sock.

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PHOENIX – Brian Anderson is a busy man. The three-time Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year Award recipient is entering his 13th season as the Milwaukee Brewers’ play-by-play announcer on Fox Sports Wisconsin. That gig will be put on a brief hold, however, as the veteran announcer will begin to make the rounds calling some of the top national events on the sports calendar.

Along with Fox, he will call games from multiple sports on a variety of networks during the spring months. Although he acknowledges that the travel schedule can be stressful and tiring at times, he also calls it “exhilarating.”

After spending a few weeks in Arizona for spring training, Anderson’s next stop was Chicago to cover the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament.
Brewers TV analyst Brian Anderson

Brewers TV analyst Brian Anderson (Photo: Fox Sports Wisconsin)

“It’s the busiest stretch I have,” he said. “It really starts in late February. I will come out to Arizona, do spring training baseball on television, step down after a couple of weeks of that to go do the Big Ten basketball tournament, and then ultimately the NCAA Tournament. So that window is about a month.

“And then I come back and do the opening schedule of the Brewers’ regular season. And then I’ll have to step down after a couple of weeks or a week of that and then go do the NBA playoffs. And that’s about a three-week run and that leads into the PGA Championship, which is now in May this year.”

Phew.

How does he handle the hectic schedule?

“You got to be organized with your prep and you’re constantly reading about every sport,” he said. “And once I get my teams for the NCAA Tournament, you’re solely focused on those eight teams in the first round that you’re calling the four games the first day. And you step back once you get past the first weekend and then tap back into what’s going on in the baseball world. I’m always curious to find out how the Brewers’ spring training is going when I’m doing basketball.”

Anderson’s broadcasting career launched in 1994, when he began calling minor-league baseball games in San Antonio, Texas. After nine years of play-by-play and numerous positions in other sports along the way, he wasn’t sure if his dream of landing a job with a big-league baseball team would come to fruition.

“I had actually given up on baseball because I couldn’t get a major-league broadcasting job,” he said. “I was having more success in basketball with the NBA and college basketball.”

An opening with the Brewers came up in late 2006 and Anderson became the voice of the team, alongside color commentator and former Brewers catcher Bill Schroeder. Shortly after, Anderson began calling MLB postseason games on TBS as well.

“Right away, I felt real comfortable,” Schroeder said of his partner. “He’s so prepared. He can do his job and my job, he’s that good. … He gives me room to do what I’m doing but he’s incredibly talented. Every one of my partners, I’ve enjoyed, but I think my rapport with Brian has gone beyond what I had with the other guys. Now we know what each other is doing before we do it.

“It’s like a marriage. In all honesty, we spend more time with each other than we do with our wives in the summer.”

Before the 2013 season, the pair was joined by Sophia Minnaert, who is a sideline reporter for Fox Sports Wisconsin and also employed by the team. For the last seven years, Minnaert has seen what type of broadcaster and person Anderson is on a daily basis.

“He’s extremely well-respected,” she said. “He’s obviously extremely talented, but anyone who knows him knows he’s just a good person and he’s a very loyal, kind, genuine person. He’s a great friend.”

Anderson’s versatility has put him in a position to call some of the most memorable plays in modern sports. Buzzer-beaters in the NCAA Tournament. Postseason walk-off home runs and no-hitters. Legendary plays and performances in the NBA playoffs.

You can find all of those on his résumé.

“My favorite (sport) is whatever I’m doing, whatever I’m assigned to do,” he said. “I truly mean that because there’s nuance in how you call play-by-play. The language and the vocabulary is different for all the different sports. But ultimately, the stories of the individual is the common thread with any of that. And that’s what intrigues me: to be able to tell a story in a path of a guy, how he gets to your television screen in my case now. That is always the same.”

As Anderson has become one of the most recognizable voices in sports, it seems he has also made an impactful and profound impression on his colleagues personally.

“He’s one of the best play-by-announcers in all of sports and I would put him up against anybody in the country,” Minnaert said.

“More importantly, he’s just a terrific person, especially in my position, you couldn’t ask for anybody better than to have as a co-worker, mentor, friend (and) support system.”

Kaleb Martinez is a senior majoring in sports journalism at Arizona State University. This story is a part of a partnership between the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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In some ways, Arizona infielder/outfielder Tim Locastro is an anachronism. In others, his skill set is ideal for his times.

In the launch-angle, exit-velocity world of modern major league baseball, Locastro’s standout tool in his plus speed, and he plays a speed/defense game. If that means making a diving catch that raises a cloud of dust on the warning track in San Francisco, that is fine. If that means stealing a base, all the better.

At the same time, Locastro can be considered a favorite of the modern front office because of his ability to get on base. He reaches at a higher rate than his peers, dramatically higher than many. If that means being struck by a pitch to get an inning started, it is all part of a beautiful plan. The 44 Pro Guard equipment company has supplied Locastro with 10 protective guards for his left elbow and triceps area, and they have more.

Locastro, 25, has been hit by 10 pitches in 83 plate appearances this season, by far the best ratio in the major leagues and the reason he was ranked 10th in the National League in on-base percentage (.398) among players with at least that many plate appearances. That figure would have ranked the top 10 in the NL in every season this decade among qualifiers, and even for a semi-regular, it is an added component that is hard to overlook.

Locastro’s salary, which is just above the major league minimum of $550,000, hardly reflects his value in a game that prioritizes on-base percentage and understands there is still a place for creators like Locastro.

“I know the game has definitely gotten really analytical,” Locastro said. “I try not to play into those numbers. I’m just trying to play my game. If it benefits me, analytically, that’s fine. If it’s not, that fine. Just help the team win.”

The small sample size this season small, but it continues a trend. Locastro has been hit by 174 pitches in seven seasons, mostly in the minor leagues, since signing with Toronto — the closest major league franchise to his home in upstate Auburn, N.Y. — as a 13th round draft pick in 2013.

Since 2014, Locastro’s full season HBP totals are 32, 32, 25, 31 and 28. He is on a similar pace this season with 17 while going back and forth between Arizona and Triple-A Reno, having been promoted to the majors three times because of injuries. He has missed only one game since his most recent recall May 24, helping Arizona get through injuries to David Peralta and Adam Jones.

For Locastro, getting hit is simply part of the job description as a table-setter with speed. A right-handed hitter, Locastro stands upright in the batter’s box and sets up with his back foot near the plate. He does not dive into an inside pitch, the most common way batters are struck, but he does not rush to get out of the way.

“I don’t get up there trying to get hit by a pitch,” Locastro said. “But if the opportunity presents itself and the ball is coming in, I’m going to let it hit me. I just don’t move. Sometimes it doesn’t hit me and often it does. And when it does, I can use it to my advantage.

“It’s the team aspect of it, get on base and try to score. I realized that if I get hit by a pitch I’m on base automatically, and then just, ‘Let’s start running.’ Steal a base here, steal a base there. You always have to play good defense and try to find a way on base to help the team win. After that, then all the other numbers fall into place. Helping the team win will solve everything.”

Locastro has not been caught stealing in any of 10 of his major league attempts with Arizona and the Dodgers, and he has 182 stolen bases at an 82 percent success rate in 640 career games, 592 in the minors.

“My favorite teammate of all time, absolutely,” said Dodgers outfielder and MVP candidate Cody Bellinger, who spent parts of four seasons in the minor and majors with Locastro. “I love the guy to death.

“He’s a grinder. He wants to get on base. He wants to help the team win. He’s not getting out of the way. He’s always been like that. He’s got bruises all over his body. All over his left side. I remember him getting hit in the hammy (hamstring) and something growing in it, and he played through it.”

Tissue in Locastro’s left hamstring calcified after he was hit by a pitch in 2015 at Class A Rancho Cucamonga, and he played another six weeks before being forced onto the disabled list, the only time being hit has kept him out.

“Little League, high school, college, that’s how everybody was,” Locastro said. “If you were hurt, you played through it. Teammates would say you are faking it, blah, blah. They would say that messing around, but you didn’t want them to be serious about it.”
(AP Photo/Tami Chappell)

Locastro did not wear an arm guard at Ithaca College, where he was an NCAA Division III All-American in 2013 and was hit 29 times in 48 games. He adopted the guard while playing at short-season Class A Vancouver in 2014, three time zones from the family home.

“My parents would only be able to listen on the radio and I’d be getting hit by pitches and they’d get all nervous because they weren’t able to see where I got hit,” he said. “Eventually my mom said, ‘Would you please wear one?’”

He figures he has been hit just about everywhere on his left side.

“From the arm guard down to the knee, that is the hot zone,” he said. “Getting hit in the calf, that hurts a lot. Getting hit in the butt hurts.”

But wherever he is hit, Locastro knows one thing. Next stop, first base.