Willi Castro feels ‘really good’ in return to Detroit Tigers after Triple-A stint

Detroit Free Press

The home run Detroit Tigers second baseman Willi Castro launched to left-center field in Friday’s 5-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals was just a small moment in his career.

But after a demotion to Triple-A Toledo, the 24-year-old gave a reminder of what he is capable of doing in the big leagues. The same was true when he tripled Thursday at Comerica Park in his first game back from the Mud Hens.

“Some hits pile up for him, he can take off,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “Those that were here last year all tell me that when he gets hot, it’s something to see. Maybe this is the catalyst.”

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Castro burst onto the scene in 2020, hitting .349 with six home runs and 24 RBIs in 36 games during the shortened season. This season hasn’t treated Castro as kindly, and his results forced him to the minor leagues.

The 2020 American League Rookie of the Year candidate  was demoted to Triple A on July 16.

“I had a lot of stuff in my head,” Castro said. “I think it was good. They do stuff for us to get better, and I think it was good for me to go down there for a couple of days to get my mind right. I just feel really good.”

But Castro didn’t stay down for long.

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When second baseman Isaac Paredes went to the 10-day injured list Thursday with a right hip strain, Castro replaced him on the roster. He started in his first game back, tripled to the deepest part of Comerica Park and finished 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Castro went 2-for-4 without a strikeout in Friday’s series opener at Kauffman Stadium.

“Every player goes through ups and downs,” Castro said. “I came with the same mentality because not every year is going to be the same. I never lost my confidence. I know the kind of player that I am, and every day I come out here to compete and help my team win.”

This season, Castro is hitting .219 with seven home runs, 29 RBIs, 18 walks and 74 strikeouts in 76 games. For Toledo, the switch-hitter produced a .319 batting average, one home run and two RBIs in five games.

Although Castro has defensive troubles at second base, the Tigers believe he is making improvements. In a 27-game span from June 1 through July 8, however, Castro made five of his nine errors this season. Since returning from the minors, he hasn’t made a mistake.

“I felt really good in these last two games that I had,” Castro said. “I just got to keep my routine every day and try to do my best. I know the kind of player that I am.”

Heads up play

In the sixth inning Friday, Miguel Cabrera and Jonathan Schoop stood on first and second base, respectively. When Jeimer Candelario hit a bouncer to first baseman Carlos Santana, he turned to throw to second base to begin a double play.

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But Santana never threw the ball, and the play ended up as a fielding error to load the bases. The reason Santana didn’t throw the ball was because Cabrera took a wide turn — rather than a straight path — to get to second base.

“That’s taught,” Hinch said. “We talk about it all the time. You can get into the running late within the game. You can’t do it home-to-first on a bunt play, like you can’t run in the grass. But when you’re on the bases, you can create your own running lane.

“I do think he would have thrown to second if Miggy wouldn’t have been in the way. And the only way you’re in the way is if you’re aware and create yourself being in the way. Excellent base running by Miggy.”

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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