Adapting to life as a major leaguer can be difficult for Cuban defectors. Boston Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo isn’t overanalyzing his transition to the United States.
Castillo, who signed a seven-year, $72.5 million contract with the Red Sox in August, currently is playing for the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League. It’s the latest stop in what has been a whirlwind seven weeks for the 27-year-old.
“Obviously, it’s a big difference playing here, but I try to keep it simple,” Castillo told MLB.com’s Lindsay Berra through an interpreter last week. “It’s the same ball, it’s the same bat, it’s the same game. I just go out there and try to do my best.”
Castillo debuted for Boston on Sept. 17 after playing for the Rookie Gulf Coast League Red Sox, Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. He enjoyed immediate success with the Red Sox, hitting .333 (12-for-36) with two homers, six RBIs, three stolen bases and a .928 OPS in 10 games.
It’s impossible to judge Castillo based solely on a few weeks. He had a lengthy layoff after defecting from Cuba last January and still is getting his feet under him in the U.S. The Red Sox’s hope is that playing fall ball and winter ball will allow Castillo to hit the ground running in 2015. Castillo said he’s hoping to garner 100 at-bats in Arizona and another 100 in Puerto Rico while preparing for spring training.
“I’m a big game guy,” Castillo told Berra. “I just want to learn how people play here and help the other guys and help the team.”
Castillo figures to be part of the Red Sox’s starting outfield next season, perhaps alongside Yoenis Cespedes and Mookie Betts. Predicting Castillo’s stats — or anything like that — requires a total shot in the dark, but the initial outlook is promising.
“I gained a little bit of weight, but I want to stay where I am right now, and as long as I keep playing and keep staying active, that will happen,” said Castillo, who was 10 pounds heavier upon arriving in the United States. “I feel really good right now, I feel like I have good power.”
Castillo is a bit of a wild card, simply because information is sparse. The Red Sox obviously expect big things, and their sizable investment could end up being a bargain if he reaches his potential.
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