Tim Locastro already had his bags packed for the road trip to Ohio, where his team was set to play the Lake County Captains. Suddenly, Locastro’s phone rings and he realizes his regional trip just became a cross-country mission. He had been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It was early July 2015 and Locastro was in Low-A for the Toronto Blue Jays. As a second baseman, he had been batting .310 in 70 games with the Lansing Lugnuts but quickly learned his hard work on the field was wanted somewhere else.
“I just remember packing up all my stuff and next thing you know, I was going across the country to Rancho Cucamonga for the Dodgers,” Locastro said. “Baseball is baseball when you get in between the lines, but just meeting new friends, new coaches – I think that was the hardest part. And it’s just (about) get getting comfortable with everybody again. And that’s when (trades) can really settle in.”
At that time, Locastro didn’t have an agent and later said that it was his first realization of what the big leagues would be like. The current momentum no longer mattered and Locastro had to block out the questions he asked himself, considering he hadn’t seen the trade coming.
However, it could have been worse.
“Fortunately for me, I don’t have a family or kids right now. But, I think it’d be a lot harder for them,” said Locastro, who was traded again to the Yankees late last year and then to the Diamondbacks in January two months later. “I just try to stay focused, play baseball and don’t listen to the outside noise.”
For some of Locastro’s current Diamondbacks teammates, an abrupt trade midseason doesn’t only affect the player, but those within their inner circles, as well.
Diamondbacks third baseman Eduardo Escobar was one of those players, having been traded from the Minnesota Twins to the Diamondbacks just days before the July 31 trade deadline last season. Even so, Escobar packed his bags for the Valley with his wife, Eucaris, and five children in tow.
Like Locastro, Escobar’s stat line was no anchor. At the time of the acquisition, he led the majors in doubles with 37. This year, he leads the National League with nine triples after legging out two on Monday against the Baltimore Orioles.
Tuesday’s game against Baltimore is the second of a three-game series at Chase Field, but also a second chance for Diamondbacks reliever Stefan Crichton to see his old teammates.
Crichton faced the Orioles on Monday for the first time since being traded in April 2018. The right-hander made just eight appearances with the Orioles in 2017, but his connections to the Baltimore pitching staff were so strong that Crichton said he had nearly 10 players to hug before the series opener.
“I played a lot with those guys in the minors,” he said. “To be able to see them here is pretty nice and refreshing to be on a new team but also pretty cool to be playing the old one.
“The minor leagues can be pretty difficult. And if you’re not ready mentally — for how long you could potentially be down there, the travel, the living conditions — it can be tough. So it’s a grind, waking up every day seeing those guys. You’re all in the same situation. Everyone wants to be on the big-league squad, and you’re not, clearly, so it’s it’s a matter of getting through the day.”
Crichton said he’ll always remember those moments in the minor leagues with current Orioles players Jimmy Yacabonis, Chance Sisco and Stevie Wilkerson. Once the pregame hugs were done, Crichton made an eighth-inning appearance and retired three straight batters.
Making the comeback
Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said outfielder David Peralta has felt “extremely good” on his rehab assignment in the rookie-level Arizona League and is getting “very close” to a return from the injured list. Peralta was scheduled to play his second rehab game on Tuesday night.
Outfielder Blake Swihart, who moved from High-A Visalia to Triple-A Reno on his rehab assignment, was not expected to play on Tuesday night due to back soreness.
Pitchers Luke Weaver and Taijuan Walker both played catch, with Weaver throwing from a distance of 90 feet for a second consecutive day.
“(Weaver) is reportedly feeling very, very good. I saw him in the training room once again with a big smile on his face,” Lovullo said. “Anytime you see an injured athlete act in that way, it’s very encouraging.”
Walker had Tuesday off, and fellow pitcher Matt Andriese is back on his feet after suffering a contusion in his left foot Saturday.