The Dodgers on Tuesday selected the contract of Steven Souza Jr. from Triple-A Oklahoma City, giving them a right-handed hitting outfielder to help out with AJ Pollock sidelined with a right hamstring strain.
This is the second stint in the majors this season for the 32-year-old Souza, who was 4-for-25 (,160/.250/.360) with a home run and a triple in 13 games for the Dodgers in June and July, including five starts in right field.
Souza won’t be a direct replacement for Pollock, but in a matter of exquisite timing, Souza shared a video on Instagram on Friday (before Pollock injured his hamstring) of him mimicking the mannerisms of his former and current teammate in the dugout, on-deck circle, and at the plate.
Souza is starting in right field for the Dodgers on Tuesday, batting seventh.
“He’ll play against left-handed pitching,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He’s a good defender, and a bat off the bench if we need him.”
He is 6-for-14 with two doubles and a home run against Cardinals left-handed starter J.A. Happ, though the two haven’t faced each other since 2016, when Souza was a Ray and Happ a Blue Jay.
Souza, who signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers in April, was designated for assignment by the Dodgers on July 6, and released five days later. After getting DFA’d, Souza tweeted, “Whatever happens wherever I land I am so thankful for everything the @Dodgers did for me. Top to bottom all Class!”
He rejoined the Dodgers on a minor league deal just after the All-Star break, and with Oklahoma City hit .247/.387/.507 with nine home runs and 12 doubles in 46 games. Souza doubled in each of his last three games in Triple-A, and in four of his last five starts, before joining the Dodgers on Monday in St. Louis. He was on the taxi squad for Monday’s game.
Souza is wearing uniform number 18 this time around for the Dodgers, after wearing No. 23 his first time with the team.
The Dodgers optioned utility man Zach McKinstry to make room on the active roster for Souza. McKinstry was called up when active rosters expanded on September 1, and appeared in one of the five games since, striking out as a pinch-hitter on Friday in San Francisco.
Left-handed pitcher Garrett Cleavinger was transferred to the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man roster. Cleavinger has been sidelined since August 8 with a right oblique strain. Given the timing of his original IL stint, his 2021 season is officially over.
Cleavinger in his first extended major league time in 2021 had a 3.00 ERA and 5.89 FIP in 22 games, and up-and-down season that included four extra-inning losses charged to his ledger.
“As far as 2021, he did a lot for us. We learned a lot,” Roberts said. “The main thing is he knows he can get pitch here. Now it’s just getting healthy and getting ready for spring training.”