|With good glove and leadoff spark, Castillo aiding Twins|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 31 May 2007 12:58|
Sometimes he seemed detached or disinterested. They wondered why he didn't run hard all the time, and if his awkward gait was a sign that he was destined for the disabled list.
But last year, Mike Redmond set the record straight about his longtime teammate while trying to ease manager Ron Gardenhire's mind about the new second baseman.
``You wait until he rolls that ball over to short, and he beats it out by two steps,'' Redmond told Gardenhire. ``Just leave him alone. He'll be fine.''
bunt, or beating out one of his familiar high chops off the Metrodome turf.
In the field, the three-time Gold Glove winner quietly established a major league record for second basemen with an errorless streak that has reached 139 games - dating to May 29, 2006.
``That's incredible, isn't it?'' Gardenhire said. ``And it's not like he doesn't have any range.''
Once Redmond explained Castillo's routine, the Twins began to feel more comfortable with the player they acquired in a trade with Florida before the 2006 season for two minor league relievers who have yet to appear in a game for the Marlins.
Now 31, Castillo can no longer run like he once did, bothered by bad knees and occasionally problematic quadriceps muscles that have prompted a decline in his stolen base total from a career-best 62 in 2000 to only three so far this year. He had 25 steals in 2006 while batting .296 with six errors.
Playing on artificial turf doesn't help, so he needs occasional days off. When he's out there, he can look like he's limping badly. If he hits a ball he knows he can't beat out, Castillo won't show much hustle. On rollers up the middle that are difficult to reach, Castillo won't make much effort to move.
``I know he's beat up. I know he is, but on the other hand he's smart,'' said Redmond, who played with Castillo for several seasons in Florida's organization. ``He's a veteran. He conserves his energy for the times that he needs it.''
When the Twins were off to a slow start last year and he was still feeling out his new environment, his body language was troublesome to the team - which has since figured out that Castillo has a hard time coping with failures and defeats.
``I press myself, because I like to win,'' he said. ``I like to be competing. If Morneau or somebody gets on and I'm not on base, I feel bad. Because that's me, and that's always what I try to do.''
If he has misjudged a ball in the field or messed up an at-bat, Castillo is often back in the dugout seething over his mistake - yelling at himself in Spanish. Earlier this month, the Metrodome's tricky ceiling got a stern lecture from Castillo after it hid a blooper that landed between him and Cuddyer.
``He's very, very entertaining,'' Gardenhire said.
He's the lead piranha, the pack of pesky contact hitters given their nickname by frustrated Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen last season, who is good at taking pitches and letting the hitters behind him get comfortable with whoever is on the mound.
But Castillo, who is making $5.75 million this year and will be a free agent after the season, is most proud of his work in the field. Despite the speed decrease, he can still turn a double play as quickly as anyone.
``If you don't make the right play, it costs a lot,'' Castillo said.