There were only so many tickets to go around.
The Red Sox optioned Rusney Castillo to Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday, ending the 27-year-old?s late push to crack Boston?s Opening Day roster. The demotion shouldn?t be viewed as a knock on Castillo, though. The club?s outfield guest list simply was too extensive for someone with minor league options.
?One of the things we told (Castillo) in the conversation was that from the day he signed to now, he?s done everything we?ve asked him to do,? Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington told reporters Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla. ?He?s done everything within his control and only confirmed for us why we signed him in the first place.
?This is a long-term investment, a long-term proposition, and we expect it to work out very well for him and for the Red Sox. We certainly see him as a major league player. It?s just not going to be on Opening Day in 2015.?
Castillo seemed like a lock for the Red Sox?s 2015 Opening Day lineup when Boston wrapped up its dismal 2014 season on Sept. 28. The Red Sox had made a sizable financial commitment, and Castillo did nothing but impress in his short major league stint down the stretch. But now, 186 days later, the Cuban outfielder and his $72.5 million contract are headed for the minors.
Hanley Ramirez has joined the mix, Mookie Betts has excelled in spring training, Allen Craig and Daniel Nava both remain in the organization and Shane Victorino still is considered the starting right fielder despite missing most of 2014. Castillo, who can easily be optioned to Pawtucket, simply didn?t make the cut, in large because he missed time in camp with an oblique injury.
?We recognize when you have a number of guys in the mix for a certain number of spots, maybe the math doesn?t quite line up,? Cherington said. ?We recognize that can bring some challenges, but we?d rather have a good problem than not have enough good options.
?But it?s very early. It?s the beginning of April, things change quickly in this game, as we know. As I said earlier in spring, we need to get more production out of the whole team, but certainly from the outfield, compared to what we did last year. I think we?re in a better position to do that. We just have to get into the season and see how guys are doing, see how things go.?
Translation: Castillo won?t start the season with Boston, but he?s standing right outside the door ready to join the party.
It?s just a matter of who gets thrown out first and if Castillo ever lets them back in upon arriving.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images