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Baltimore Orioles

Orioles catcher Welington Castillo struggling at the plate after second disabled list trip

MILWAUKEE — A season of consistent performance at the plate simply interrupted by injury has turned in the other direction for Orioles catcher Welington Castillo.

Castillo has hit his longest slump of the year since his return from the disabled list on June 10.

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Castillo was activated after a disabled list trip necessitated by a deflected ball to the groin, and was batting .317 with an .805 OPS at the time. In his first 18 games back, he hit .175 with a .611 OPS to drag his season average down to .268 entering Wednesday.

"I don't think he's seeing the ball real well, especially the breaking ball," manager Buck Showalter said. "You can tell he's committing real early to something. … But he was a pretty good hitter for a long time. Statistically, it hasn't been there for him since this last little bout on the DL."

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Before this second trip to the disabled list, Castillo had been one of the team's most consistent hitters, when healthy. He required another disabled list stint in early May because of a shoulder injury that had lingered from the World Baseball Classic, but was hitting .314 through the season's first month when he landed on the shelf.

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Once he returned, Castillo continued swinging a hot bat, hitting .320 with three home runs in between his injuries.

He has four home runs since coming off the DL in June, but no other extra-base hits. Part of the disparity could have to do with the schedule. Earlier in the season, the Orioles saw a disproportionate amount of left-handed pitching, and the right-handed Castillo has historically hit for better average against opposite-side pitching. It has been more heavily right-handed of late, and his average dips off them.

Showalter seemed assured that Castillo would find those earlier levels, but noted stretches like this are part of his history.

"If you look at his track record of his career, it's very similar," Showalter said. "He'll have some good spurts, and he'll get back up there."

After his hot start, Castillo is indeed settling back near his career averages. Last season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Castillo hit .264 with a .745 OPS. He entered Wednesday a career .256/.317/.418 hitter.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

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