July 8th, 2012

Tigers’ Futures Game display in quotes

Futures Game MVP Nick Castellanos on his three-run homer and 3-for-4 performance:

“I think the biggest thing that I’m happy with is that, as big of the stage that I was set on, with as many good players that are here, I was able to just remember my game and just stay within myself, stay with my old routine, stay with what I do good, which is just hitting line drives, getting base hits. Don’t think just because I hit a home run I tried to press or do anything different in this game. It just happened to go out. I’m just really happy that I was able to stay within myself and do what I can do.”

Castellanos on his reaction to his home run:

“I think I gave a couple first pumps rounding second, and I remember saying to myself, ‘That’s huge. That’s awesome.’ It was a great at-bat. The pitcher pitched me really well. I worked a 3-2 count and he left I think a two-seamer that got in. And I was able to get the good part of the bat to it, and it got enough to get out. That at-bat’s definitely up there with the greatest at-bats I’ve had in pro ball.”

Castellanos on his bat going to the Hall of Fame:

“The bat’s probably the coolest thing ever. That’s right up there with playing in this game. I don’t even think I’ve taken that in yet, that the bat I used is going to Cooperstown. I went to Cooperstown when I was 12 for a tournament and I was just walking around. The names that are in Cooperstown and that my bat’s going to Cooperstown, saying that out loud is pretty cool. …

“First time I used that bat was to bunt in batting practice today, so it’s a good stick.”

Catcher Rob Brantly, who doubled in Castellanos in sixth inning and threw out a baserunner:

“I’m so proud of him. That’s my brother over there. To see him have that sort of success, it lifts my spirits. It’s great to finally be playing with him. I got excited when I got to play with him one day in Double-A and then I got moved up. But when we’re in the lineup together, I don’t know what it is, man. It’s just something kind of electrifies him, and we get it going.”

Reliever Bruce Rondon, who hit 102 mph on one pitch on the Kauffman Stadium radar gun and hit 101 on three others:

“It was a beautiful experience, something I’ll never forget. It wasn’t the score that I wanted, but it was a great day. This is such a beautiful stadium I look forward to playing in one day. This is what I dream about. This is what I want my family wants and everybody who loves me wants. I am so happy and I’m healthy. What else can I ask for?”

Brantly on the thought of potentially facing Rondon:

“I think everybody was thinking about that at the beginning of the game. I don’t know if you guys saw the radar gun there, he didn’t throw anything below 101. Guys were coming out of their shoes early. They were looking forward to getting out of the box — single, home run, whatever. He pounded the zone, so kudos to him. I’m proud of him.”

Castellanos taking fly balls in left field with Erie

Nick Castellanos broke into the U.S. starting lineup for the All-Star Futures Game as the designated hitter. He might also have provided a hint for where he could eventually fit in as a Tiger if Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder stay on the corners for the foreseeable future.

Actually, the hint came from Tigers minor-league instructor Kevin Bradshaw, who talked with Castellanos shortly before his promotion to Double-A Erie.

“Get an outfielder’s glove,” Castellanos said he was told. “Just to have one, it’s not a bad idea. So I went out and got one. I haven’t been getting specific instruction there yet. He just said to get out there, start getting a little different view.”

Once Castellanos made the jump to Erie little more than a month ago, he began tracking fly balls in left field during pregame batting practice — not specific drills, he said, but a way to get accustomed to that angle.

“A lot of it is pretty getting used to seeing the way the ball comes off [the bat] to lefties, comes off to righties, making sure I’m getting behind the balls when I’m running after them instead of running forward and then having to adjust backwards. That’s pretty much it,” Castellanos said Sunday before the All-Star Futures Game in Kansas City.

By all accounts, no move is imminent. All of Castellanos’ game action has been at third base, with the occasional start at designated hitter to get him off his feet. But with Miguel Cabrera seemingly at third base for the foreseeable future while Prince Fielder is at first, and the Tigers potentially having an opening in left field as soon as next season, though Castellanos won’t necessarily be ready at that point.

When asked about where his future lies, Castellanos said nothing definitive.

“I really don’t know,” he said. “I know the organization still loves me as a third baseman. They see me there in the future. They’ve also mentioned to get an outfielder’s glove, nothing too serious so far.”

Cabrera broke into the big leagues with the 2003 Marlins as their left fielder because that’s where their void was. They had Mike Lowell at third, though Lowell missed most of September that year and Cabrera filled in at third.

“All those guys are great,” Castellanos said. “I’m just going to have to keep on grinding it through and hopefully I’ll force them to put me somewhere.”

Another example is Albert Pujols, who played both corner outfield and infield spots as a 21-year-old rookie in 2001 before spending most of the following two years as the Cards’ primary left fielder.

“If you hit,” the 20-year-old Castellanos said, “they’re going to find a spot for you.”