Rays News

Tampa Bay Rays: Injuries Piling Up as Season Winds Down

By Althea Pashman
Sep 12, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) catches a fly ball for an out during the fourth inning in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 12, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) catches a fly ball for an out during the fourth inning in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /
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Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. is playing through hip discomfort with surgery a possibility before the season ends.

As official word trickled down that Tampa Bay Rays first baseman and designated hitter Logan Morrison’s season is officially over, right fielder Steven Souza Jr. could be joining his teammate.

Souza Jr. acknowledged via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he has been playing through a left hip issue and that he could possibly undergo surgery before the Rays conclude their season.

In June, Souza initially injured the hip when diving for a ball against the Seattle Mariners.

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He would leave the game with the Rays hoping he would be able to return to action after a day or two of rest.

However, that wasn’t the case as two days later he was placed on the 15-day DL with a left hip strain where he would remain until July 2 when he was activated off the list.

What hasn’t been pointed out is that the hip issue is really likely to have started in spring training, though not directly involving the hip.

During batting practice he tweaked his lower back/oblique left side said Cash at that time. Souza was sure that it wasn’t his oblique, instead related it to sitting on a plane for like four or five hours.

For whatever that was worth, the Tampa Bay Rays were extremely cautious with him. They held him out of action for a few days as the determination of the injury was just a strained intercostal muscle.

At the time of sustaining the injury, Souza batting line was .255/.315/.442 with 10 homers, 25 RBI and 82 strikeouts while appearing in 57 games, all starts.

Since returning from his line has taken a nosedive .218/.265/.330 with six home runs, 22 RBI and 74 strikeouts appearing 57 games and starting in 52.

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Overall on the season heading into Tuesday’s game against Toronto, Souza’s line stands at .237/.291/.399 with 16 home runs, 47 RBI and 158 strikeouts (in 409 at-bats).

His home run mark ties his career high set last year, and his RBIs and strikeouts are both career highs.

Souza Jr. was acquired by the Tampa Bay Rays as part of a 3-team trade between the Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres that sent Wil Myers to San Diego in December 2014.

The Rays felt that getting Souza to play right field was the key to being competitive with a winning team in 2015 and for the future since they did not have any in-house solutions ready at the time.

Bottom line, the Rays looked to Souza to help win baseball games as he had a breakout season in 2014 winning the International League MVP playing with Triple-A Syracuse.

The combination of speed and power were the keys.

However, his first full season in the majors (2015) was derailed at times due to injuries (110 games), spending two separate stints on the disabled (right pinkie laceration and a fractured left hand) as well as missing time due to a left wrist sprain.

The bottom line Souza has not been healthy for an entire season since being an everyday player. Yes, he plays hard – maybe sometimes harder than he should but that’s his makeup.

“He can be a very special player, said Cash.  Physically, I don’t know if you can count five players in baseball that can hit a ball as far as he did last Thursday night against the Yankees. As far as the speed, the power, the arm strength, those are talents that a lot of people wish they had.”

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Morrison’s Season Appears Over

Whether or not Souza’s season continues is yet to be determined but as always the Tampa Bay Rays will be extremely cautious.

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