Sinatro dives for a major league dream

Outfielder comes from family rich with history of playing baseball


GEORGE RODRIGUEZ | The Daily Evergreen

Danny Sinatro explains how he stays focused on baseball and how his coaches encourage him to play better on a daily basis. He has stolen three bases this season.

RYAN BLAKE, Evergreen reporter

The Sinatros have a particular affinity for baseball. Matt Sinatro played in the MLB from 1981 to 1992 and coached the Seattle Mariners under Lou Piniella from 1995 to 2002. His eldest sons, Jimmy and Matt Jr., recently finished their baseball careers for Gonzaga University and University of San Francisco, respectively.

Due to this, it comes as no surprise that Matt’s youngest son Danny Sinatro has been turning heads in Pullman with his overt athleticism in the outfield and infectious personality in the locker room.

Sinatro attended Skyline High School in Sammamish, where he was a two-sport standout in baseball and football. He was named all-conference as a cornerback his junior year and was first team All-State his senior year in football.

As good as he was on the football field, it was in baseball that he helped his high school win the state title during his senior year while earning All-State honors. The Cleveland Indians selected him in the 40th round of the 2016 MLB Draft following his high school career, but he elected to come to WSU instead.

“I thought I could kill two birds with one stone, playing baseball and going to school,” Sinatro said. “Education has always been big for me because it’s important to my family. My dad was drafted out of high school. Selfishly, he wanted me to go to college too because he missed out on the college experience, and it’s tough because you got to grow up real quick being in the minors.”

LUKE HOLLISTER | Daily Evergreen File
Danny Sinatro swings for the ball against California State University, Northridge on May 27 at Bailey-Brayton Field.

Sinatro was thrust into action immediately his freshman season. He started 30 games and hit .226 in 2017.

Head Coach Marty Lees said many freshmen struggle during the initial transition from high school to college baseball, and learning how to adjust to the game at the Pac-12 level can be a daunting task.

Sinatro was also learning a new position, moving from shortstop to centerfield.

“I told Marty [Lees] coming into [WSU], I don’t really care or have a preference where I play,” Sinatro said. “I just want to work hard, get better and hopefully play.”

In a game against University of Alabama earlier this season, a line drive off the bat of Alabama freshman center Sam Praytor looked destined for the gap. Sinatro chased down the ball and dove, extending fully to make the catch and save a double. Praytor could be seen jogging off the field with a smile that expressed a mixture of frustration and amazement.

“We’re fortunate he’s out there,” Lees said. “He’s going from gap to gap. He’s making catches we hope that Pac-12 centerfielders can make, but he goes above and beyond. When you have a guy like that out there running around, it saves a lot of doubles and saves a lot of runs.”

Sinatro said his experience playing cornerback in high school helped his footwork and ultimately helped his transition to the outfield.

“Honestly, you’re just catching a different ball,” Sinatro said.

In addition to his defense, Sinatro has steadily improved offensively, both in his approach and his swing mechanics, and has a better idea of what opposing pitchers are trying to throw him in certain counts, Lees said.

The adjustments appear to be working. Sinatro is hitting .320 with three stolen bases and two doubles in eight games.

Lees said ideally Sinatro will hit at the top of the order behind junior Andres Alvarez, with the hope that both can get on base for the middle of the order to drive them in. His speed on the base paths is another weapon they hope to utilize in 2018, Lees said.

Sinatro is not just a positive force on the field for the Cougars. His off-field presence is not lost on his coaches and teammates.

“Danny is really fun to watch because he’s one of the most gifted athletes I’ve seen, and also he’s a pretty funny character,” said senior outfielder Derek Chapman. “It’s fun having him out on the field and back in the dugout.”

Senior first baseman James Rudkin said Sinatro is always lifting up his teammates in the locker room and keeping them loose.

“He’s the life in the locker room,” Rudkin said, “always playing music, making the jokes and making everyone laugh.”

Sinatro is able to balance his likeable personality with the competitive edge he learned growing up in a household with two older brothers. Whether it was wiffleball, football or video games, the three were always vying to outdo each other.

“All in all, it was just like any other family,” Sinatro said.

Playing in the MLB is the ultimate goal for Sinatro but for now he is focused on the season ahead.

“I just want to have fun, remember why I play the game and soak it up,” Sinatro said, “because it goes by quick.”