A strained left oblique to outfielder Rusney Castillo has been just about the extent of Red Sox injury news this spring and Boston’s healthy camp should receive one more member as Castillo is nearly ready to resume full baseball activities.
Manager John Farrell announced that Castillo would be game-ready today, and could see playing time as the Red Sox square off against the Twins. Castillo took live batting practice and threw from the outfield yesterday, the first time that he has done either since straining his left oblique back on March 3rd against Boston College.
Castillo, who signed a $72.5M contract with the Red Sox out of Cuba last summer, will re-enter his battle against Mookie Betts for the starting center field job. Unfortunately, Castillo will really need to make an impression in the next few weeks in order to sway Farrell’s judgement, as Betts has been superb in spring training this year, going 12-26 with 4 doubles and 2 triples with highlight-reel defense in center.
Many have gone as far as to speculate that Castillo will begin the season in Triple-A Pawtucket. This would momentarily solve Boston’s logjam in the outfield while also letting Castillo work out some of his kinks and receive the extended rehab time that he missed during spring training.
Even if Castillo does join the PawSox, though, he’ll be chomping at the bit to join the Red Sox 25-man roster soon enough. Nobody can deny Castillo’s raw talent, as he slashed .333/.400/.528 with 2 home runs in a ten-game stint with the Red Sox at the end of last season and then backed it up with a stellar performance in the Puerto Rican Winter League. However, sending him to the PawSox for a few weeks to start the year won’t hurt him.
Regardless of where Castillo starts the year, however, his health is good news. In the next couple of weeks before the start of the regular season, Castillo will be able to showcase his impressive skill set and should be one of the more intriguing names to watch in Red Sox camp.
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