Welington Castillo proving Orioles' offseason hopes about his bat were right

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

The Orioles signed Welington Castillo in December because they thought he could hit. Nothing has proven them wrong about their new catcher so far.

Despite playing half the number of games of his peers because shoulder tendinitis and the regular days off catchers get, Castillo is batting .365/.386/.541 after another three-hit day that included two home runs and the game-winner in the 10th inning of Friday’s 5-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

He has nine hits in 15 at-bats since he came off the disabled list, and manager Buck Showalter said every day makes his strengths more evident.

“Welington’s had a good track record of being a good offensive catcher and he’s done a good job for us defensively, obviously,” Showalter said. “It was big. It’s funny, I looked up there and it doesn’t feel like he had one home run coming into the game. He’s a real tough-minded guy. He’s got a certain mental toughness about him. As you’re around him, you really have an appreciation for it.”

Castillo, who signed as a free agent from the Arizona Diamondbacks and had at least 13 home runs in each of the past three seasons, had put together such a season so far that the one home run he entered the game with didn’t faze him either.

“I just don’t try to do too much,” he said. “I think things are better when I think that way. I don’t worry about my power. I know it’s going to come. I just try to make good contact.”

Castillo has now played 20 games, and yet his 31 hits are sixth most on the team. He has nine extra-base hits after adding two Friday, including his first career walk-off home run off Blue Jays reliever Jason Grilli.

He said he didn’t have a good history against him during their shared time in the National League, but he knew he’d get a fastball inside and took advantage.

“And he gave me a fastball inside strike, a slider swing and miss, and I never went away from my plan,” Castillo said. “I was looking something middle-in and he gave it to me, and I put a good swing on it.”

Starter Chris Tillman spent April rehabilitating his own shoulder injury and watching from afar, but his first regular-season experience with Castillo this week has been exactly what he expected.

“He’s swinging the bat well,” Tillman said. "He has been, I feel like, all year so far. I mean, I think it’s no surprise to us what he’s capable of doing. Tonight, he put on a show.”

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