Souza to face former teammate Zimmermann
Right fielder fondly remembers his catch that saved righty's 2014 no-no
ST. PETERSBURG -- Steven Souza Jr.'s tenure with the Nationals was a brief one, but with one play, he made it a memorable one.
With Jordan Zimmermann one out away from a no-hitter on Sept. 29, 2014, Christian Yelich launched one to the gap in left-center, but Souza, who had spent seven-plus years in Washington's farm system, chased it down and made a highlight-reel diving catch to etch Zimmermann's name into the record books.
"I went to state playing football, I've won playoff games in the Minor Leagues, I've hit walk-off homers," Souza said, "but nothing was more special than coming together as a team like that and doing something like that."
On Wednesday, though, the two will share a different moment: the first time they have faced off against each other as Zimmermann gets the start for the Nationals and Souza starts in right field for the Rays, to whom the Nationals traded him on Dec. 19, 2014.
"It's cool to see everyone, rekindle relationships with coaches I spent a lot of time with and players that mean a lot to me off the field," Souza said. "At the same time, we're trying to win a ballgame, and that's what we're here to do."
In the midst of a four-game stretch against the club that traded him, Souza walked five times in the first game at Tropicana Field.
Souza led the Rays entering Tuesday's game in home runs (12), RBIs (29) and steals (8), but was also third in the Major Leagues in strikeouts with 82 in 208 at-bats. He attributes some of that to "falling into the trap of trying to prove the trade worthy."
"That obviously falls on me for not being able to handle that in a mature way," Souza said. "I'm just trying to move forward and play the game that I've loved to play for the last few years."