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Steven Souza turns embarrassing misplay into an endearing moment

Step aside, Tim Tebow. Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Steven Souza has not only staked his claim to the most awkward outfield dive in baseball this week, he absolutely owns it.

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Working in Tebow’s favor was that he was actually about to make the catch. What he lacked in style points, he made up for with a good result.

As for Souza, his attempt during Friday’s game against the Twins lacked style points, awareness and ultimately the baseball, as his dive was approximately 20 feet off the mark. But what Souza lacked in those areas, he made up for in humility, which helped him win over everyone at Target Field.

Here’s a look at the play in question.

Reminder: This is the same Steven Souza who once saved a Jordan Zimmermann no-hitter with a sensational diving catch in Washington.

Rays right fielder Steven Souza (right) takes a dive about 20 feet away from the baseball. (MLB.TV)

At first look, it’s pretty clear that Souza didn’t get a good read on the ball off the bat. Souza confirmed as much after the game, noting that he immediately lost it in the lights at Target Field.

“What really happened was the ball went in the lights immediately and I couldn’t find it,” Souza said after the game. “I just saw it in the gap, in that general direction, and I just hit the deck hoping it wasn’t going to hit me in the face. I had no idea where it was, and when I looked up it was about 40 feet away from me.”

Not that a good read would have mattered in this case. This sinking liner off Kennys Vargas’ bat was going to drop regardless, and Joe Mauer was going to score.

But whether if was an honest attempt to catch the ball or an act of self preservation, Souza won points with all of us for his reaction to the play.

He took the whole thing in stride, even reaching out to Statcast following the game to get a thorough assessment of his blunder.

“It’s all in good fun,” Souza added. “If you play this game, you’re going to make a fool of yourself eventually. I don’t think anyone’s ever gotten a standing ovation for making a bad play, so that was pretty funny.”

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Like a true pro, Souza would redeem himself on the field too, launching an eighth-inning solo home run that helped secure Tampa Bay’s 5-2 win.

What started as an embarrassing moment has turned into a moment of endearment for Souza. When you can pull that off, you’re doing something right.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!