Tim Locastro: 2019 season in review 23

Arizona Diamondbacks' Tim Locastro greets teammates in the dugout before the start of a baseball game, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

NEW YORK — Tim Locastro didn't realize he set a record. 

The Auburn native and Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder was beaned by a pitch in a game against the Cincinnati Reds Sunday. The significance of that plunking: It was the 20th time he had been hit by a pitch this season, which is a new Diamondbacks record

Locastro added to that single-season record on the first pitch of the game Wednesday. New York Mets pitcher Steven Matz threw a pitch inside that hit him on the leg. 

His hit-by-pitch total (21) ranks fourth in the majors. He's been hit in 9.375% of his 224 plate appearances. When Justin Upton set the previous Diamondbacks record with 19 hits-by-pitches in 2011, he did so in 674 plate appearances. 

"I get on base. That's all I care about: Get on base and score a run," Locastro said before Wednesday's game at Citi Field. "It doesn't feel good getting hit by a pitch, but getting on base and scoring is the best thing for the team." 

Locastro's willingness to get hit began in Auburn. TJ Gamba, the former head coach of the Auburn varsity baseball team, wanted his players to get on base any way they could to produce runs. 

The beanings continued at Ithaca College. In his three-year collegiate career, Locastro was hit 50 times. He had 27 hits-by-pitches in 48 games during his junior season — his last with the Bombers before being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013. 

As a professional, Locastro upped his hit-by-pitch game. He was hit 32 times in 67 games with Vancouver, the Blue Jays' Single-A affiliate, in 2014. He tallied 32 hits-by-pitches again in 2015 between the Blue Jays' and Los Angeles Dodgers' organizations. (The Dodgers acquired him in July 2015.) 

The hits kept coming in 2016 — his first full year in the Dodgers' minor league system. He was plunked 25 times in Advanced Single-A and Double-A. He had 31 more hits-by-pitches between Double-A and Triple-A in 2017 before he made his major league debut in September. 

In 2018, Locastro split time between the Dodgers and Triple-A Oklahoma City. He was hit 28 times in the minors and had his first major league HBP May 3 against the Diamondbacks — his future club. 

"Growing up, in high school and college it's preached to get on base any way you can," Locastro recalled. "If you got out of the way, you had upperclassmen saying 'What are you doing getting out of the way?' So you didn't want to get yelled at by all those guys. I just took that into pro ball and I've been getting hit ever since I've been playing pro ball. It's never left my gameplay." 

It didn't get much attention, though, until he joined the Diamondbacks this season. He was hit four times in his first 12 games. And then came May 24. 

Arizona recalled Locastro and he started against the San Francisco Giants. Locastro was hit by a pitch three times, tying a single-game major league record. He was briefly tied for the league lead but still ranks among the best in that category. 

During the All-Star break, the Diamondbacks tweeted a comedic video of Locastro staying in shape by getting hit by baseballs in the batting cage. 

"Oh god, I love it!" he says at one point in the clip. 

When Locastro set a new single-season record, the Diamondbacks posted a GIF on the club's social media accounts showing where the Auburn native has been hit this season. 

While the record was mentioned in press reports and on social media, Locastro wasn't focused on it at the time. He learned about it from his mother, Colleen, who sent a text message notifying him that he's the new record-holder. 

The record isn't what Locastro wants. He has his sights on something bigger: The Diamondbacks' playoff race. As of Thursday afternoon, Arizona trails the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers by 2 1/2 games for the final National League wild card spot. 

"I saw some stuff on social media, but I'm not really thinking much about that," he said of his single-season mark. "We just gotta win every single day." 

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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.


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.