Diaz Starting to Heat Up After Cold Spring

Pirates catcher making the most of his consistent playing time.

Noah Hiles
May 24, 2019 - 10:01 pm

© David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

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PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – The start of the 2019 season has been a long, difficult journey for Pirates catcher Elias Diaz. Following a 2018 season where he provided some much needed power to the Bucco offense, Diaz entered spring training looking to compete for a more consistent starting role behind the plate. However, his progress was put on hold in early March when the team announced that Diaz was being placed on the injured list due to him attracting a virus, sidelining him until the start of the regular season.

A few successful rehab stints in the minor leagues in the first few weeks of April allowed Diaz to find himself back with the Bucs in the majors on April 21. However, missing the majority of spring training put Diaz at a disadvantage, resulting in him to struggle early on.

Recently, it seems that the 28 year-old back stop has finally put things together. In the final stop on the clubs road trip last weekend, Diaz played all four games against the San Diego Padres, where he had eight hits, including back to back three hit games on May 18 and May 19.

The productivity continued for Diaz when the Pirates returned home to face Colorado. Diaz went 3-7 in the two games he started, boosting his season average from .135 to .262.

“It feels great”, Diaz said when asked about the opportunity to receive consistent playing time. “I love to play every day regardless how I or the team does. Even if we don’t do well, I am still always happy to play because it is fun.”

When asked if he is completely back to where he was last year in terms of both health and skill, Diaz said, “I don’t know if I am completely back but I feel really good right now. I am still working every day to continue getting better and better.”

Due to his position, Diaz has to put a heavy focus into other aspects of his game. In addition to having to find his timing in the batters box, Diaz was also tasked with getting back up to speed with every single member of the Pirates pitching staff.

Although there have been many different Pirates to take the mound already in 2019, Diaz says that the biggest challenge in his return is figuring out the opposing pitcher, rather than the ones on his own team.

“Working with a pitcher behind the plate, you get that down quick,” said Diaz “You communicate when you’re watching the game; plus the information we have on every team makes it much easier. All of that is a lot easier than getting your timing back at the plate.”

Of course, the Pirates have recently adapted the bullpenning strategy, which means Diaz and fellow teammate Francisco Cervelli will have a much different routine behind the plate for at least a few games a week. However, for Diaz, while the approach might be different, he says the club’s overall strategy remains similar.

“For me it is the same,” said Diaz. “We have the plan and we are going to execute the plan. We call the game the right way and we should be good, no matter who is pitching.”