February 3, 2023

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McCarthy shows off all-around game vs. LA

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PHOENIX — When the D-backs selected Jake McCarthy in the first round of the 2018 Draft (39th overall) out of the University of Virginia, they knew they were not only getting an excellent baseball player, but a terrific all-around athlete. After all, he was a standout running back for Scranton (Penn.) High School, rushing for almost 6,000 yards.

Fortunately for Arizona, he chose baseball.

His skills and speed were on full display Saturday night in the D-backs’ 3-2 loss to the Dodgers at Chase Field. In the second inning, he split the gap in right-center, sending the ball all the way to the wall for an RBI triple and scoring David Peralta. He later came in to score on Geraldo Perdomo’s triple to the exact same spot.

In the fourth inning, McCarthy hit a sharp ground ball that glanced off the glove of a diving Freddie Freeman and trickled into right-center. Turning on the afterburners, McCarthy never stopped rounding first, hustling into second for a double.

But perhaps it is on defense where McCarthy really stands out. He made an outstanding diving catch in the fifth on a sinking liner off the bat of Will Smith that limited the Dodgers to a sacrifice fly. Had the ball gotten by him, the speedy Trea Turner would most likely have scored from first. In the sixth inning, Chris Taylor hit a popup to shallow right that McCarthy had to charge almost 100 feet to catch on the dead run.

After the game, manager Torey Lovullo said of McCarthy, “He’s done a great job for us. Look, we play the game fast. We have some really athletic players. Jake did everything we expect him to do. When he had an opportunity to take an extra base, he did that. It doesn’t surprise me. He’s attacking the game. He saved us with a great play [on the sac fly], had two real good at-bats. Since he’s rejoined us, I think the game has slowed down a little bit for him.”

This being his third callup to the Majors, McCarthy’s take on that was similar.

“Any time you do something more often, you have more experience, you’re just definitely more acclimated,” said McCarthy. “When you do something over and over again, I like to think through hard work, you get better at it.”

McCarthy has an interesting quirk when he’s going for a fly ball. He slaps his hip with the glove just before he makes a catch. Asked about it, he said, “It must be a habit. Pavin [Smith] actually called me out on that. Like, you’re always hitting your hip … I’ve seen enough replays. I think it’s a rhythm thing, just like at the plate. It’s subconscious. I don’t really work on it.”

It was pointed out that Willie Mays used to have a similar little tick where he slapped his glove just before he made a catch. McCarthy gave a big smile and said he liked that comp.

Despite making the last out of the game, he raised his batting average from .208 to .231 and OPS from .575 to .663. More importantly, his efforts on both sides of the ball helped keep the D-backs in the game, a one-run contest that saw starter Merrill Kelly wiggle in and out of trouble throughout the night.

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