Castillo was in Boston, but that was to be with his wife, Mariela, who was giving birth to the couple's first child. So he did not accompany Triple-A Pawtucket on its trip to Indianapolis, although he remained on the team's active roster.
But it’s time for the Red Sox to drop the pretense that Castillo needs more minor-league at-bats and summon him to the big leagues. Too many outfielders? That’s John Farrell's problem to work out, and with his club the weakest-hitting team in the majors for the month of May (.201), the potential for Castillo to make an impact is high.
Either that or the Red Sox misspent $72.5 million to sign him. Playing him in the minors any longer than this -- granted, he needed time to recover from a strained left shoulder sustained while making a diving catch -- is simply a waste of John W. Henry's cash. For that money, he could have bought the Boston Globe and had a few bucks left in his pocket.
Castillo was batting .217 on May 3. Since then, he has hit safely in 9 of his 11 games, including six multi-hit games, culminating in back-to-back three-hit games last weekend in Columbus, one in which he homered twice and doubled. He is batting .348 in that span, raising his overall slash line to .304/355/.449/.804. The two home runs are the only two he has hit in 17 games (76 plate appearances) for the PawSox, but he also has four doubles and has stolen six bases in eight attempts. He also has been playing plus-defense in the outfield, starting in centerfield in each of his last six games since Jackie Bradley Jr. was called up.
Farrell acknowledged in Seattle last weekend that the reports on Castillo have been very good.
"He's hitting balls where they're pitched, he's impacting the baseball and he's gotten back to more consistent timing and probably playing like we saw in spring training," Farrell said. "There was a dynamic player, a good athlete, and the power is showing up."
Last season, the Sox ranked 27th in the major leagues in OPS from their outfield and last in home runs with 26, or 14 fewer than Baltimore outfielder Nelson Cruz, who led the majors with 40. The addition of Hanley Ramirez has helped, as Ramirez hit 10 home runs in April, and Mookie
Betts has been dynamic in centerfield despite an overall slash line of .221/.287/.389/.677. Betts' .226 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) suggests that luck has not favored him at times.
But Ramirez does not have an RBI in 13 games in May and only one extra-base hit, a double. He has posted a .213/.260/.234/.494 slash line this month after posting a .999 OPS in April. Ramirez missed three games after running into the left-field grandstand wall May 4 and missed the next three games with what the club called a sprained left shoulder. That’s the same shoulder he has had surgically repaired twice. He has played in every game since, but if he is indeed hurt and the injury is affecting his production, it would seem counterproductive for the Sox to keep running Ramirez out there. If he's not hurt, then he needs to pick it up.
But it is right field that, along with first base -- where Mike Napoli is fighting a season-long slump that ranks as the worst of his career -- that has been a true black hole in the Sox's lineup. Sox right-fielders are batting a collective .144 (19 for 132), and while Shane Victorino returned last Monday and made an immediate impact with a home run and sensational catch, his tenuous physical state requires constant monitoring, Farrell said.
The Sox also recalled Bradley Jr., who was batting .343 with a .393 on-base percentage when summoned from Pawtucket, leading the Sox to hope he had made the necessary adjustments at the plate to be a contributor. But Bradley Jr., who has made three starts since his return last Sunday, is hitless in 11 at-bats. Going back to last September, when he went 1 for 36, Bradley is 1 for his last 47 at the major-league level.
Getting irregular at-bats is challenging enough. Getting them against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey last Sunday, Oakland ace Sonny Gray on Wednesday and Seattle's Felix Hernandez on Saturday borders on criminal.
"Welcome to the major leagues," Farrell said.
The contributions of veterans Daniel Nava (.160, 1 extra-base hit in 50 plate appearances) and Allen Craig have been negligible, with Craig outrighted Monday to Pawtucket, an indication that he no longer fits in the Sox plans.
So clearly there is a need for Castillo, if not a place. There might be more than one reason for him to pass out congratulatory cigars this week.