Rusney Castillo is set to make his Red Sox debut Wednesday night, starting in center field against the Pirates.
The Red Sox gave their new outfielder as much time to shake the rust off as they possibly could, leaving him with the Pawtucket Red Sox as they went on to capture the International League championship and even through the one-game Triple-A championship game against the Omaha Storm Chasers. Now that the farm system is in hibernation until spring, however, there's only one place left for him to play these final two weeks of September.
To Castillo's credit, he certainly seems ready to make that jump. While he started off a bit slow, as might be expected after a two-year layoff, Castillo has hit safely in each of his last six games, producing a first-pitch home run in Tuesday's championship game against Omaha. He hasn't quite been up to speed on the basepaths, getting caught three times in five attempts, but once he gets his rhythm back there's not really any question about his wheels.
According to Pete Abraham, John Farrell doesn't expect to use Castillo as an everyday player in these last two weeks. That fits with the schedule Castillo was on in the minors, with the organization fitting plenty of days off in to avoid pushing too hard too fast. With the Red Sox having plenty of players who need time in the outfield to begin with, and playoff contention long since gone by the wayside, there's certainly no need to change that approach before 2015.
The expectation now is that Castillo will finish out these last couple weeks with the Red Sox, then head for fall and winter leagues just to make sure the progress made over this past month is not lost with another lengthy layoff. In a way, though, this is all just spring training. It should be fun to watch Castillo get his first look in the majors, but the real challenge, scrutiny, and weight is all on 2015 right now, when the Red Sox will be back to 0-0 with everything to play for.