Bukauskas called up; Locastro to the IL

Newly acquired Heath activated, in lineup; Swarzak DFA'd

April 19th, 2021

It was a bit of a chaotic Sunday morning in the D-backs clubhouse with players coming and going, thanks to multiple roster moves and the coaching staff adjusting to the Nationals scratching Stephen Strasburg from his scheduled start.

Outfielder Tim Locastro, who suffered a dislocated left pinkie finger Saturday, was officially placed on the 10-day injured list, and the team called up outfielder Nick Heath, who was acquired Saturday in a deal with the Royals.

Heath did not have to wait long for his first taste of action, as he was placed in the starting lineup at center field in Sunday's 5-2 win over the Nationals. He notched his first hit with the D-backs in his first at-bat in the second inning.

Reliever Anthony Swarzak, who allowed five runs in 4 2/3 innings of work this year, was designated for assignment, and right-hander J.B. Bukauskas was activated from the taxi squad to take his place in the bullpen.

Bukauskas, who was acquired at the 2019 Trade Deadline from the Astros in the Zack Greinke deal, will be making his big league debut.

"He was born and raised 10 minutes from here," manager Torey Lovullo said of the Ashburn, Va., native. "So the scenario couldn't be any better -- better for him. It was a great moment for us to tell him that he's going to be a big leaguer. And I'm sure it's going to be a great moment for him to celebrate with his family as well."

Bukauskas -- ranked by MLB Pipeline as the D-backs' No. 17 prospect -- was outstanding early in Spring Training but was sent down midway through camp as the organization wanted him to continue to improve his command, which had been an issue in the past but improved markedly this spring.

While initially disappointed about the demotion, Bukauskas talked with family and friends and decided that the time at the team's alternate training site would make him even more prepared for when he did get called up. 

"I think I just took it as an opportunity to continue to challenge myself, and get better and take what the team wanted me to work on," Bukauskas said. "And I think I did some of that. So I definitely wouldn't say it was deflating. I think that I was really enthusiastic about my performance in Spring Training. But, you know, there's always steps to take to get better. I understood that." 

Lovullo said he had not determined what role Bukauskas would fill in the bullpen. With injuries to Joakim Soria and Tyler Clippard, Lovullo has not had a set closer this year and has relied on matchups in the late innings instead. 

Heath's role is much more defined. 

With Ketel Marte on the injured list, the team had just Locastro as a true center fielder, so general manager Mike Hazen added Heath on Saturday. 

Later that day, Locastro suffered his injury, leaving the D-backs without a center fielder. Pavin Smith played there the rest of the game Saturday and can fill in at times, but he came up as a first baseman and began to add corner outfield to his professional resume only last year. 

The D-backs had to not only get Heath to D.C. but also needed him to get through the COVID protocols quickly in order to have him ready for Sunday. 

"Our front office is unbelievable," Lovullo said. "We were just looking for some coverage in [center field], where we felt like we were a little light, and the deal was made and obviously, it was timed well. He's in the big leagues and he's here to help us win baseball games."