BOSTON — The writing was on the wall for Rusney Castillo before Tuesday’s demotion.
While the Red Sox had high hopes for Castillo when they recalled him from Triple-A Pawtucket last month, it soon became obvious the Cuban outfielder would be back in the minors before long. Castillo struggled in his first major league stint of 2015 and his playing time dropped, creating a situation in which the Red Sox were better off sending him down I-95 for additional seasoning.
“With Rusney, we just need to get him back to playing every day,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Tuesday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. “He had been relegated to a bench role here, which in fairness to him, (made it) difficult (for him) to get into any kind of rhythm and gain some confidence, which he needs to with every-day play.”
Castillo has the tools to be an impactful big leaguer. But he’s also still adapting to baseball — and life, for that matter — in the United States. The only way to expedite that process and help Castillo reach his true potential is for the 27-year-old to play every day. And, as Farrell mentioned, that simply wasn’t happening in Boston. Thus, the Red Sox absolutely needed to send Castillo back down to Triple-A.
“He needs to get back into the rhythm of the game more than anything,” Farrell said. “The year (of baseball) missed (amid his defection from Cuba), sure, that’s a void. We can’t go back in time. But to say that there’s development, or a specific focus on development, to me it’s more a matter of how you adjust to the way you’re being pitched. The speed of the game, the strength of the game is greater here than what he’s experienced elsewhere.”
Sure, it doesn’t look great having a player attached to a $72.5 million contract toiling in the minors. And Castillo’s age suggests there might not be too much room for further development, even if it’s reasonable to expect better results as he gains more comfort in his new baseball setting. But Castillo started in only one of Boston’s last seven games, and Brock Holt and Alejandro De Aza figure to hold down the right field duties as Shane Victorino works toward his return. There simply was no point in having Castillo stay with the Red Sox if he was going to sit on the bench. It not only would do little to help Boston win games now. It also could stunt Castillo’s growth, creating an even bigger long-term issue.
“Without knowing firsthand what the pitching is like over there, you would think there’s going to be a greater challenge facing the pitching here,” Farrell said. “Evident by the number of looks we had from a scouting sense, there was the thought that, yes, this would be an everyday player, and we still believe that will be the case.
“He’s just going through a little bit of a stretch where, even by his own admission, he might not be the most confident guy right now and is getting attacked a certain way by opposing pitchers, and we’ve got to work through that.”
The Red Sox expected Castillo to make an immediate impact upon signing him to a lucrative deal last August. He hasn’t done such yet, but Boston is taking a proactive approach to ensure better days lie ahead for the talented outfielder.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images