SEATTLE — For most big leaguers, a sharp ground ball past the shortstop and into shallow left-center field is nothing more than a routine base hit.
Not for Tim Locastro.
The newest member of the Yankees slapped a grounder past a diving J.P. Crawford in the second inning on Wednesday evening in Seattle, busting it out of the box and whizzing past first base to slide into second safely with a double.
It's those kind of plays—taking an extra base and hyping up the bench with some unadulterated hustle—that showcases the spark that Locastro has provided since being acquired in a trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks last week.
"What an athlete," Aaron Judge said after Wednesday night's victory over the Mariners. "He can play all outfield positions. We saw him show off that speed a little bit today with just a routine base hit up the middle but out of the box, he's sprinting hard. He's a guy that hustles, he gives 110% every single day, every single play."
Wednesday night marked Locastro's first multi-hit game in a Yankees uniform. The 28-year-old isn't producing at a staggering clip—hitting .273 (3-for-11) through his first five games with New York—but he's contributing in more ways than one, sometimes beyond the box score.
"It's obviously elite speed and he can really play the outfield and he's really contributed to us at the bottom of the order," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Wednesday. "Had a big walk the other night, obviously, a couple hits tonight. When you have that athleticism and that speed, which is a little bit of a different added dimension for us, I do think it brings a little energy to the ball club."
For a team that's routinely struggled on the base paths and with runners in scoring position this season, Locastro puts the pressure on other clubs when he's in the lineup. Even in the at-bats where he's been retired, Locastro is putting his head down and running hard, forcing defenders to stay on top of their game while setting a good example for his teammates.
Plus, with Clint Frazier on the injured list with vertigo (and Miguel Andújar managing a hand injury over these last few days), Locastro has seamlessly filled in on defense, providing Boone with a reliable and versatile asset on the outfield grass.
The upstate New York native has made it clear that his goal in pinstripes is to help win games. After his two-double game this week, he assured that his new teammates have welcomed him in with open arms, calling the group in the Yankees clubhouse "unbelievable."
Asked about that two-base hit up the middle, Locastro said he was thinking second base as soon as it got past the shortstop. To his skipper, that's a prime example of a player understanding their skills and taking a calculated risk at the right time.
"That's a case of knowing you can fly. That's all on him," Boone explained. "That's that instinctive decision you've got to make knowing your speed, knowing the outfielder, knowing it's the right time to take a gamble. Obviously it was a really good play by him."
Locastro's role is certain to change over the next few weeks as New York jockeys for position ahead of the Trade Deadline. The Yankees could add a starting outfielder, turning Locastro into even more of a Swiss Army Knife off the bench. They could also battle more injuries the rest of the way, though, needing the speedster to eat up innings.
Either way, Judge was pleased with what he's seen so far from his new teammate. After all, that double in the second inning on Wednesday paved the way, in part, to Judge's booming two-run home run, a blast that had Locastro in awe as he watched from third base.
"We're excited to have him," Judge said. "He fits right in and he can do some special things for us."
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