The 27-year-old native of Ciego de Avila, Cuba has been out recently with a strained left oblique, which has kept him out of action for much of spring training. There is also no timetable as to when Castillo will return. Ian Browne of MLB.com reported Thursday that “the Red Sox are still getting to know all the nuances of a player they signed to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal back in August. And Castillo is still getting back into the rhythm of being a baseball player after going over a year without playing in organized games in Cuba.” With all of the facts in mind, it is hard to say that there will be any guarantees concerning Castillo.
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Browne spoke with Red Sox managerJohn Farrell
, who said, “We’ve got to wait and see when he’s first back on the field how much of the schedule remains and how many at-bats that might translate to … We haven’t determined that yet.”
An injury can have variables nobody has considered, especially when dealing with the oblique and other core muscles. With all of the twisting and turning that baseball players do, during each activity in a game or practice, it can either slow down or even damage the already-painful injury. Just an off-balanced swing of the bat can re-injure or hinder any healing felt the day before. Castillo will have to prove that he can perform at the peak of his potential before the Red Sox can dare to put him back into the lineup. Even light exercises could spell disaster.
It could be even more catastrophic to the Red Sox outfield on Opening Day. Or would it?
The big question, besides the pitching, for the Red Sox was the outfield situation, particularly in center field. In place of Castillo, Mookie Betts has been one of the bright spots, this spring training. He has six hits in four games, including a double and triple to display some power and speed. Betts also had another unbelievable catch in the outfield, last night against the New York Yankees, to add to his collection of highlight-reel moments.
Mar 13, 2015; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Mookie Betts (50) doubles during the third inning against the New York Yankees at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
MassLive.com‘s Jen McCaffrey reported yesterday that, to prepare for the competition in center field, Betts knew that he would have to increase his power and speed to be an effective lead-off man. “Betts put on about 12 pounds of muscle from the end of last offseason (he ended the regular season at 169 and entered camp at 181). The wear and tear of a full season — one that started in Double-A Portland — didn’t necessarily hamper his abilities, but he’s hopeful the added weight will boost his strength this season.” Castillo’s slugging percentage was .528 and Betts had .444 in the short time they played for the Red Sox last season. While the sample size may be too small for a realistic assessment, Betts was smart not to let the decision to be left in the hands of the judges.
If Castillo does not get enough at-bats in spring training, he might find himself in Pawtucket in April. He has to prove that he can be the everyday lead-off in the lineup. He does not have enough games in the majors under his belt to prove that he will eventually figure it out, either. Especially with Betts sitting there, ready and willing for Farrell to put him in for good. Every day that Castillo sits out is another day for Betts to interview alone for the position, offensively and defensively. Yet, each moment Castillo rehabilitates his injury is another potential disaster to the rest of his career. Either way, it has got to hurt Castillo, in more ways than one.