Christian Walker, Tim Locastro “Excited” to Return to Diamondbacks after Injuries

Christian Walker

Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker and outfielder Tim Locastro returned to the active roster Monday after stints on the injured list. Walker will be in the starting lineup for Tuesday evening’s road game against the Miami Marlins, while Locastro will be a reserve. Both Walker and Locastro spoke to the press via Zoom Tuesday afternoon.

Christian Walker — “Excited” to Return to the Team

The team shut down activity for Christian Walker for about a week. He did rotation progressions after his one-week shutdown and then eased his way into hitting. All of that was “painless,” Walker said.

Walker is excited to jump back into the fray right now with the team doing as well as they are. Manager Torey Lovullo told both Walker and Locastro to continue being who they are and not worry about trying to do more than that. Walker simply wants to “fit in and be there for (his) team when they need (him).”

At the alt site, even when Walker couldn’t swing, he was still watching. That and standing in the velo machine cage without a bat allowed him to keep his timing as far as pitches go. He managed to get 15 at-bats or so at the alt site.

No Pressure

The play of his teammates during his injury has been “exciting, motivating, (and) hopeful” for Christian Walker. He said that it seemed like every night, “no matter what a player’s role or service time was,” someone was stepping up. At times, someone made a big hit. Other times, someone drew a key walk. He could “tell what the vibe was in the dugout” just by watching his teammates laugh and have a good time during the games. “Everything is awesome when you win,” he added.

With the current roster setup, Walker does not feel any pressure to “be a hero,” in the words of Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. “I’m just a puzzle piece here,” said Walker. “I want to be there when my team needs me. Otherwise, (I’ll be) in the dugout cheering them on.”

Before the injury, Walker felt slightly frustrated by the lack of results for the work he’s been putting in. He felt good the whole time, but balls simply weren’t falling or getting through. He said that the mental break might have been what he needed. Now, given the play of the team, he feels like he has “some catching up to do” just to get up to the level of his teammates.

Tim Locastro — “Ready to Go”

Locastro said he is “ready to go and excited to be back.” The seven days that he had stitches were tough since he couldn’t do anything to make his hand sweat. He had a freezer bag on his hand inside a wrap whenever he went in the pool. Avoiding sweating (on his hands) while living in Phoenix — one of the hottest cities in North America — was a bit of a challenge, even with the freezer bag. He had to use baby powder and rosin to keep his hands from sweating.

When he suffered the injury, the dislocated finger faced the opposite direction than it was supposed to. It confused him more than “freaking (him) out because (he) saw blood.” He was more upset that his stolen base streak ended than anything else.

During his seven-day downtime, Locastro read two more chapters in the book he’s been working on for the past three months. That book is Relentless by Tim Grover, Michael Jordan’s trainer. He said that reading is one of the few things that he doesn’t “do fast.”

Returning to Play

Locastro was “shocked” when he picked up a bat again. When doing so, he “didn’t have any pain at all.” As soon as he started hitting, he didn’t feel any of the lasting soreness that the doctor said he might have.

He will continue to slide head-first but will wear a sliding mitt at least until the end of the season. He wore the mitt in 2019 due to a minor thumb injury. In that injury, when he was sliding in, his thumb hit someone’s knee. It bothered him a little bit, but it annoyed him more than anything. He stopped wearing it when he dove into third and ended up having his hand slip off the bag.

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Players mentioned:
Christian Walker, Tim Locastro, Torey Lovullo