Díaz sets new personal bests in 2023

September 29th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Thomas Harding’s Rockies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

DENVER -- Rockies catcher  raised his palms and looked to the sky, thankful his best effort was rewarded Wednesday night.

The Dodgers’ James Outman was originally called safe on his sixth-inning steal attempt, but replay gave Díaz’s pinpoint throw the just result.

Díaz’s 19th caught stealing this season -- most for the Rockies since Tony Wolters erased 20 in 2019 -- was one of his many successes and a bright spot in a forgettable Rockies season.

“No doubt, it’s been good for me, but it’s been a tough time for the team,” Díaz said. “But still you’ve got to do your best.”

Díaz has deservedly enhanced his profile in 2023.

He earned the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player for his game-winning home run for the National League. The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association honored Díaz with the Rockies’ Heart and Hustle Award based on his “passion, desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field.” 

Some of that off-the-field effort will be on display at Coors Field on Friday night, when Díaz, through his foundation, will conduct his annual shoe drive. The shoes or money donations will be used to provide shoes to children in his hometown of Maracaibo, Venezuela.

Fans may present shoes or donations at a designated spot on the concourse behind home plate.

On Wednesday, he surpassed Joe Girardi (1995) for the club record for games caught with 123. Díaz's 114 starts going into Friday against the Twins -- the opener of the season-ending three-game series -- are second to Girardi’s 119 in ‘95, when then-manager Don Baylor needed every bit of him en route to the first postseason berth in Rockies history.

Díaz is doing it in a season of little reward, record-wise. In a 31-game stretch through Wednesday, Díaz was slashing .282/.307/.409 with three home runs, five doubles and 21 RBIs, although he didn’t start Thursday after going 3-for-23 in a seven-game stretch.

“Next year, we’re going to start all over,” Díaz said. “It will be a challenge for the young guys and for the veterans. But I am happy for it, because I have been healthy all year.”