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.”