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Tim Locastro

Auburn native Tim Locastro walks to his position in right field for the Arizona Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium Wednesday, July 31.

Tim Locastro didn't expect this. 

The Auburn native and Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder didn't expect to play 91 games in the majors this season. He didn't expect to become the fastest major league player, set a team record, tie a major league record and rip a few walk-off hits. 

But that's what happened in 2019. 

"It was a special year," Locastro said in a phone interview after Sunday game — the last of the 2019 season. "I was up in the big leagues a lot longer than I anticipated when this season started and I had an unbelievable time. Our team was awesome, the coaches were awesome and the chemistry of the whole team was amazing." 

For Locastro, his main goal is to win. That's why, despite his individual success, he's disappointed with the end of the season. The Diamondbacks finished 85-77 — four games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for the final National League wild-card spot. 

The Diamondbacks came within a half-game of the second wild-card spot, but their playoff hopes took a hit when they lost six games in a row in September. They rebounded with 10 wins in their last 14 games, including five straight to end the season. 

"Everyone is a little frustrated that we're not in the playoffs because we expected to be there," Locastro said. "But I think going into next year, we can build on a strong finish to (2019) and be ready to go and compete next year." 

Before looking ahead, Locastro reflected on his season and his most recent accomplishment — another walk-off hit. 

The Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres were tied in the ninth inning. With two outs and a runner on third, Locastro had an opportunity to win the season finale. 

He made contact with the second pitch of his at-bat and hit a grounder to short. "As soon as I hit it, I just took off," he said. He beat the throw to first, the runner scored and the Diamondbacks won 1-0. 

"It was sort of the hit-it-and-run approach, and it worked out," said Locastro, who credited the Diamondbacks' pitching staff for keeping them in the game.  

With the win, the Diamondbacks end the season on a high note. While Locastro and his teammates won't be playing for a World Series title this year, he thinks Sunday's win gives them something to build on for the 2020 season. 

Baseball's offseason is short — a fact Locastro was reminded of during Sunday's game. He said a fan in the stands at Chase Field, the Diamondbacks' home ballpark, had a sign that read, "179 more days until opening day." 

"That was sort of eye-opening," he said with a laugh. 

The first item on Locastro's offseason to-do list is to heal. He has some bruises and cuts to mend before he begins his offseason regimen. He'll lift weights, then start baseball activities — hitting, fielding groundballs and taking fly balls. 

Hours after his walk-off hit, he already identified an area of his game he wants to improve. 

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"I want to definitely add some more power to my game going into next year so that we can have some speed and power," he said. "I think that could take my game to the next level." 

Locastro hit one home run this season. It was his first major league home run and came against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium July 31. 

In the minor leagues, he was able to hit for power at times. He had 10 home runs in Double-A and Triple-A two seasons ago. This year, he hit eight home runs in 31 games with the Reno Aces, the Diamondbacks' Triple-A affiliate. In late April, he had three home runs in a game for the Aces. 

That doesn't mean Locastro will change his game. He says his primary role, whether he's at the top or bottom of the lineup, is to "get on base and score runs." 

"But I think everybody would like to improve on something when you go into the offseason," he said. "If there's one area, that's my one area I'm going to try to improve on and just add it to my arsenal." 

The rest of his game is in good shape. He had a .250 batting average in 91 games. His on-base percentage was .357, which ranked him second on the team. He scored 38 runs and had 17 runs batted in. 

The two statistics that highlight his game the best: Hits-by-pitches and stolen bases. He was hit by a pitch 22 times this season — a new Diamondbacks single-season record. On May 24, he tied a major league record when he was hit by a pitch three times in a game. 

As a base runner, he had 17 stolen bases this season — the second-highest total by a Diamondback. Only Jarrod Dyson, who stole 30 bases, had more. 

He maintained his base-stealing streak, which is approaching a major league record. He has 22 consecutive stolen bases without being caught since debuting in the majors in 2017. The record is held by Hall of Famer Tim Raines, who stole 27 consecutive bases without being caught to start his career. 

Locastro has league-leading speed. According to MLB's Statcast, his sprint speed is 30.7 feet per second — the fastest among major leaguers

But the Auburn native isn't in it for the individual accolades. He admitted the hit-by-pitch record is "cool," but he'd trade it for a chance at a championship. 

"If I don't break the record next year, but we get to the playoffs? I'd definitely be happier than having the record," he said. "It's a good thing to look back on when it's all said and done, but our goal as a team next year is to make the playoffs and eventually win a World Series." 

Something he's cherished is the support from his hometown. His parents, Colleen and Tim Sr., attended several of his games this season. Former coaches and teammates said they watched his games or checked the box scores to stay updated on his progress. 

When Locastro and the Diamondbacks played the Yankees in New York, dozens of family members and friends from Auburn attended the games. There was a similar turnout when the Diamondbacks played the Mets in September. 

Those that didn't see him in person sent him text messages or connected with him on social media. 

"I'm happy everybody has been along for the ride because I couldn't have done it without them," Locastro said. 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.