Castellanos talks September plans, learning process
Nick Castellanos isn’t sure just yet where his season is going to end. There are two weeks left in the season at Triple-A Toledo. There’s quite a bit longer left in Detroit, another month left in the regular season, and who knows how long in the postseason.
He doesn’t know whether he’s going to be around for it. He’s not planning for it.
“The way I’m looking at it right now is I’ll be home with my son in 14 days,” Castellanos said Monday night from Fifth Third Field, “and if anything else changes, that’s definitely for the best.”
Castellanos’ son, Liam, was born a couple weeks ago. He missed a few games for that, came back, then missed a few games last week after being hit by a pitch. He’s back, feeling good and hitting well, his first-inning home run Monday his latest piece of evidence for that. He turned on an inside fastball from former Major League pitcher Kameron Loe and sent it more than midway up the scoreboard in left, hitting an advertisement.
He didn’t see another fastball from Loe the rest of the night, which didn’t last long for Loe. He did see fastballs from Gwinnett relievers. He talked about that difference as the big adjustment he has had to make in Toledo this summer, especially once he recovered from a slow start to tear up the International League in May and into June.
“I’ve had to learn a lot because Triple-A, batting 3-4-5, which I’ve done all year, you don’t see a lot of fastballs for strikes,” he said. “They pitch around you. I’ve had to learn at this level to hit offspeed pitches moreso because they throw them for strikes more consistently. At the lower levels, it was get ahead with a fastball for a strike and then try to get you to chase with an offspeed for a strike and then come back with a fastball. Now, they’ll just show you fastballs around the zone to keep you on it and then they’ll throw you offspeed for strikes.”
This doesn’t surprise his manager, Phil Nevin. Whenever Nevin has talked about Castellanos’ season, the biggest adjustment has been the outfield. The hitting has been expected.
“There’s not a level high enough where Nick’s not going to hit,” Nevin said.
The question now is at what level Nick will be hitting when this season ends. He doesn’t dismiss the question when asked if he thinks about September, or maybe earlier, and his answer clearly suggests he has put some thought into it. He’s trying to think about it from the Tigers’ standpoint.
“I don’t know,” Castellanos said. “I mean, the reality is they’re seven games above [Cleveland in the division race], Dirks is starting to get hot, Tuiasosopo has been consistent all year, and they’re winning. The way sometimes this game works, if they don’t need me, why are they going to bring me up? If they don’t need to start my clock [on service time], if they don’t need to do anything?
“Now if they were one or two games back and if people weren’t swinging well or whatever, then maybe I could see that. Of course, I’d love to go up. I’d love to try to help the team win. But I’m not walking by the manager’s office expecting something to happen.”
The opinions on Dirks and Tuiasosopo at this point have been debated by fans. So, of course, might be the notion of Castellanos as a late-season boost. It worked for Avisail Garcia a year ago, of course, but as a part-time player. So far, the Tigers have resisted any temptation to use Castellanos in a part-time role. September can be different on that.
Castellanos said he has kept in touch with Garcia since the trade and said he’s “living the dream” while the White Sox retool.
“You’re never ready until you get there,” Castellanos said. “It’s not like a player wakes up and all of a sudden he’s ready for the big leagues in every aspect. There’s always something that you’re going to need to work on when you get there.”
Castellanos will, too. He just doesn’t know when it’s going to happen.