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Welington Castillo, back from WBC, set to be eased back into fold for Orioles

Orioles catcher Welington Castillo wants to get right into games this week after his return from the WBC, but the team will ease him in.

Orioles catcher Welington Castillo volunteered on his arrival to start behind the plate in Wednesday's Grapefruit League game against the Tampa Bay Rays, such is his vigor to get himself back involved with his new team.

But manager Buck Showalter told Castillo, the Dominican Republic's starting catcher in the WBC, that he is already more than ready for the season to start, so the last week-plus of games will be more maintenance for him than anything else.

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"I'm going to be playing, but he told me, you're ready to play already, so we're going to play you the least that we can," said Castillo, whose WBC run ended Saturday with a loss against Team USA. "It depends on who's going to pitch, just to get involved with the starting rotation and the pen. But I'm ready. I'm happy to be here and I'm going to get ready for the season and spend time with my teammates in here and pull everything together for the season."

Castillo was a candidate to catch innings from Zach Britton and Brad Brach midway through Wednesday's game, but instead, his first action back in an Orioles uniform will come in minor league games Friday at Twin Lakes Park. Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman will each start in those games to allow Mike Wright to start in Fort Myers against Minnesota, and Castillo will go field-to-field and catch alternating innings for each.

Otherwise, Castillo will be winding down from an experience he relished, even if it was physically more than a catcher typically has to endure in March.

"It's a great experience," Castillo said. "It's hard to talk about it. You've got to be there to describe everything you live out there."

The atmosphere, he said, made him more apt to overlook the physical demands.

"You know, your body is not 100-percent ready, but as soon as you get in between the two white lines and they call 'Play ball,' it's more a mindset than body or your body being ready, physically," he said. "I think it's a mindset. Whenever they call 'Play ball,' your mindset is to go out there and compete and give everything you've got.

"It's a little bit hard, because out there you're just trying to win and you don't want to get out of the game. In spring training, you come in and catch, five, six, seven innings. Out there, you go all nine. If you've got to go extra innings, you've got to go. But I feel ready. I feel ready for the season, honestly, and I feel like I'm in good shape."

Castillo, who finished the tournament with four hits in 22 at-bats, including a home run, shared the field each night with third baseman Manny Machado.

Machado said between Castillo's bat and his arm, the Orioles have a good core piece.

"He's going to help us out," Machado said. "He can do both sides of the thing, he can obviously play defense and he can have some key at-bats for us, like he did with the Dominican team. Finally seeing him play throughout a couple games -- I think we played seven or eight games -- he's going to be a very impactful player for our organization and the team that we have here. I'm looking forward to seeing what he's going to do with our pitching staff and with our team."

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