While all eyes have been on Pablo Sandoval beginning this season on the bench, another high-priced Red Sox signee has also yet to find himself as a regular starter early on in 2016.
Yesterday the Boston Red Sox sent outfielder Rusney Castillo to Triple A Pawtucket following the series ending win over the Baltimore Orioles. Castillo, who was projected to be the Boston left fielder going into spring training, struggled in the pre season and ended up unseeded by Brock Holt.
Manager John Farrell cited getting more at bats for the reason behind Castillo’s demotion, which is reasonable. The Cuban outfielder has barely played in 2016, and with the way Holt has it, it seems unlikely Castillo would get another opportunity soon.
Just like Sandoval, Castillo is not the responsibility of Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski. The former Tigers manager showed no hesitation in allowing Sandoval to be benched, and there is no urgency to play Castillo either; it wasn’t he who spent the $72 million on him two seasons ago.
With just four at bats over the first eight games of the season, it was clear that Castillo’s role on this team is much more diminished than it was imagined it would be. In September, the hype was around an athletic outfield of Castillo, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. Once again, however, Holt’s bat played itself into the lineup, and Castillo is yet to prove he can handle the big leagues.
Chris Young, another right handed outfielder, has seen priority as platooning with Holt and also Travis Shaw at third base with at bats, and Castillo being a righty as well became a redundant part of the roster. If the Sox wanted a defensive replacement in the outfield as well, it would always be Young over Castillo.
Castillo played in 80 games with Boston last season, hitting .253 with five home runs and an anemic .288 OBP in 289 at bats. In 40 games with Pawtucket in 2015, Castillo hit .282 with three home runs. Castillo has yet to show the power he was projected to have from the right side of the plate, and has shown an inability to consistently get on base with just a 4.5% walk rate last year.
Getting everyday at bats may help Castillo get in a rhythm, but even then, his future in Boston is unclear. A role is yet to show up, though if he played well enough, would be a more consistent option in left field. However, as long as Holt continues to hit, there’s no reason to think Castillo has the ability to usurp him. It might be a bit too early to call Castillo a bust, but it’s getting close to reasonably thinking that may be the case.