Tim Locastro was hit by a pitch Wednesday, and Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday. He was hit five times in four games last weekend.
As the Dodgers consider which minor leaguers might merit a September callup by providing even the slightest edge to the major league team, consider this: Locastro, a utility player at triple-A Oklahoma City, has been hit by a pitch 17 times this month, in 23 games.
“I think there’s a little bit of a skill behind it,” the Dodgers’ Chase Utley said. “Practice makes perfect.”
Utley has been hit by a pitch 203 times, the most of any active major league player. He once led the majors in times hit by pitch three years running. Yet Utley never has been hit more than nine times in a month.
In 1971, when Ron Hunt set the modern record by getting hit by a pitch 50 times, he was not hit more than 11 times in any month.
“Locastro is the most prolific hit by pitch guy I’ve ever seen,” said Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations.
This is the fifth consecutive minor league season in which he has been hit at least 25 times.
He also has stolen 18 bases in 20 attempts, and he has played first base, second base, left field and center field, making him an attractive candidate for a second consecutive September callup. The Dodgers considered including him on their postseason roster last fall, as a designated pinch-runner.
The Dodgers pushed back Alex Wood’s next start from Sunday to Wednesday, apparently dropping Wood from their starting rotation for next week’s showdown against the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks.
Hyun-Jin Ryu is scheduled to start in Wood’s place Sunday. That would set up Rich Hill, Clayton Kershaw, Ryu and rookie Walker Buehler to face the Diamondbacks.
The Dodgers did not immediately say why they made the change. Wood has failed to pitch beyond the fifth inning in his last two starts.
Piling up the miles
The Dodgers have used pitcher Pat Venditte in six games this season. They have optioned him to Oklahoma City seven times, and they could do so again by Tuesday, when they plan to activate pitcher Ross Stripling.
Venditte has been called up for one day twice, for two days twice, and never for more than a week. He gets a hotel room for his frequent visits to Los Angeles. His wife, Erin, has remained in the couple’s Oklahoma City apartment all season, caring for a 1-year-old son.
Venditte, 33, known for his ability to pitch with both arms, never has played a full season in the major leagues. He said he is not frustrated by the Dodgers’ use of him as an extra arm to be shuttled between California and Oklahoma.
“I take a realistic approach to who I am as a pitcher,” he said. “As a guy in his mid-30s, this is probably the role I’m going to have. I’m going to be an up-and-down guy. You just want to pitch well with every opportunity you have.”
If the Dodgers offer him a contract for the same role next season, he said, he would be happy to sign.
“Of course,” he said. “It’s a great life. To be able to do this for a living and have my wife and son with me, I’m going to do this as long as I possibly can.”