The Red Sox couldn't wait to call him up any longer, so outfielder Rusney Castillo is finally joining the rest of his spring training teammates in Boston for the series opener against the Angels. To make room on the 25-man roster, Jackie Bradley Jr., who has played sparingly off of the bench, was optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket in place of Castillo. Credit the Providence Journal's Tim Britton for spotting Rusney's car in the parking lot, and for seeing that he had Bradley's locker in the clubhouse as well.
Castillo has hit .293/.341/.440 for Pawtucket, but has mostly been better than that -- he began the season strong, hurt his shoulder on a diving catch in right, missed time recovering, and then came back for what was essentially an unofficial rehab assignment. Since getting his timing back and shaking the rust off, Castillo has been a force for the PawSox, slugging .600 over his last eight games and 38 plate appearances. He very well might have been in Boston sooner, but he went on paternity leave for a few days to begin this past week, and just returned to action on Thursday.
Sox prospects daily: JBJ still isn't hitting
The Red Sox would love to play Jackie Bradley Jr. to help their outfield, but if he's not hitting, then what can they do?
The 27-year-old was signed by the Red Sox last August for $72.5 million over seven years, and as he was already under contract and guaranteed his pay days, it made sense to let him (and his available options) begin the year in the minors even before an oblique injury cost him time in spring training. The whole point of having Castillo in the minors at this late junction was to get him something akin to an in-season spring training experience, and his production of late suggests that he's successfully managed one.
Now, with Shane Victorino starting to hit and always able to field but not always able to take the field, Hanley Ramirez struggling at the plate since crashing into the wall on May 4, Daniel Nava a no-show at the plate, and veterans like Mike Napoli and David Ortiz not quite putting things together, it was time to see if Rusney could help add another productive bat to the mix. With Bradley headed to Pawtucket, Nava gets more chances to sort things out offensively, and Bradley, as mentioned, can play every day to try to rebuild his value and get back to a place where he can show what exactly he has to offer in the bigs.
What exactly Castillo will provide is unclear, but he's a disciplined hitter who swings at the pitches he can do something with, even if they are early in the count, and leaves the ones he cannot. He'll draw his walks, he'll get his hits -- extra-base ones, too -- and he will field his position well. He's an all-around talent, and while you're likely expecting too much if you're hoping for a star, the Sox could use Castillo at his promising, well above-average potential as soon as he's able to showcase it.