WASHINGTON -- Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. had quite an offseason. During the first half of it, he spent a lot of time talking about the great catch he made to save Jordan Zimmermann's no-hitter on the final day of the 2014 season.
Souza then spent the rest of the offseason talking about the big trade involving the Nationals, Rays and Padres. The Nationals sent Souza to the Rays, the Nationals acquired right-hander Joe Ross and shortstop Trea Turner while outfielder Wil Myers went from the Rays to the Padres.
Souza was able to play his first game at Nationals Park since the trade on Wednesday and received a warm ovation from the Nats fans before the Rays won the game, 5-0.
"The way the fans responded, that was pretty emotional, pretty high moment for me," said Souza who went 2-for-3 against Zimmermann including a solo home run in the fifth inning. "I know that Jordan deserves all of the honor and I deserve nothing, really. But to have [the fans give me the ovation], that was pretty cool."
The praise didn't go just one way.
"He is a good hitter. He is really young. He is probably going to turn into a really good ballplayer," Zimmermann said. "But, obviously, if you make mistakes, they make you pay at this level and he did that today."
The trade gave Souza a chance to be an everyday player with the Rays and part of a team that is in first place in the American League East.
"I can't complain," Souza said. "We are in first place halfway through June, especially what we have been through. It's a fun team to be on. I'm looking forward to the next half of the year."
Souza's big game on Wednesday served as an encore to a effort on Tuesday in which he became the first opponent to walk five times against Washington.
"It was one of those weird games," Souza said. "I don't think the Nationals were trying to do anything specific by pitching around me. Some of the balls went my way. I fouled off a couple of tough pitches. It's just a wacky game, I guess."
Manager Matt Williams came away impressed with what he has seen from Souza.
"He does a lot of things well on the diamond and he is getting an opportunity to play every day and show [the Rays] what he's got over there. … He has good power in the middle of the diamond and power the other way as well."