Man who allegedly stabbed pregnant woman to death headed for trial

Castillo's quiet start rings loud with O's teammates

The Baltimore Sun (TNS)
  • Welington Castillo is batting .353 with an RBI after going 2-for-3 on Tuesday.
  • Castillo is taking over for Matt Wieters as the Baltimore Orioles' starting catcher.
  • He hasn't been charged with a passed ball and has thrown out two of five potential base stealers.

As a catcher who early in his career came under a lot of scrutiny for his work behind the plate, Caleb Joseph knows one of the highest compliments that can be paid to new teammate Welington Castillo.

"It's kind of good that nothing has stood out, right?" Joseph said. "That's kind of the old adage, that if your game goes unnoticed, then you've done a great job. It's hard sometimes to believe that's the truth, but I think he's done a really nice job, and the fact that it's going unnoticed I think shows how good of a job he's done."

Over the course of five starts after Tuesday's 8-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox, Castillo has proven every bit the worthy replacement for Matt Wieters, the team's longtime backstop. Castillo is batting .353 with an RBI after going 2-for-3 on Tuesday.

Behind the plate, he has had some blemishes — he missed a tag on a play Saturday and has had some shaky block attempts on pitches in the dirt — but he hasn't been charged with a passed ball in four starts and has thrown out two of five potential base stealers.

It's all too early to make sweeping assessments, but that his teammates have already grown so trusting of Castillo and commend him so often is a good sign for how the year can develop.

Manager Buck Showalter praised him early on for his efforts to catch as many of the pitchers as he could in spring training before and after representing the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Showalter liked that Castillo spent time learning the pitchers' preferences.

Full of good suggestions: Seemingly every time he runs into an Orioles pitcher in the weight room or around the clubhouse, the pitchers say, Castillo has a fresh idea or a thought to run by them to ensure they have all of their plans in line.

"The few times I saw him in the weight room after the WBC, we kind of just talked for five or 10 minutes about pitching, what I like to throw and when I like to throw it, stuff like that," said reliever Brad Brach, who threw to Castillo in each of the first four games. "I think that goes a long way. It's one thing to catch me but it's another to talk about strategy out there so you're not there shaking off the whole time, or he has a different idea in his head than you do. I think after these four games, we're ready to go now and I've got confidence in him. I think he's got confidence in me and all the pitches I throw."

Dylan Bundy had the Orioles' best start of the season Thursday with seven innings of two-run ball. He said Castillo's constant suggestions helped them to get on the same page that day.

"He was just always asking questions about us," Bundy said. "He'll come up to us and just have a thought on his head and he wants to know what we think about it, maybe throwing a pitch to a certain guy and seeing how he reacts. He's always asking questions about that kind of stuff."

"Creative" pitch selections: That kind of effort is noticed around the clubhouse and in the manager's office. Showalter has applauded what he has called some "creative" pitch selections, but when the time comes for the pitch to be executed in a tough situation, the confidence the relationships bring is an asset.

"I like it a lot," Brach said. "I think he has a good way of kind of giving you confidence in the pitch that you're going to throw, and I think that's huge as a pitcher. You kind of want to see the catcher give you that nod of, 'Here we go, let's execute this pitch here.' And whatever he puts down, you have confidence in."

Castillo's reputation is more for his bat than his glove. But Showalter has said bench coach John Russell has a way of taking a guy whose defense may be considered a liability and turning him into a quality receiver, a la Joseph or Nick Hundley.

Joseph said Castillo's trajectory with the team should be just fine.

"Some people think they want to grab onto something spectacular, but there's a lot of good pieces of his puzzle and if you can't tell that they're not doing their job, it's normal," Joseph said. "It's a bad thing if they don't look the same. If they look the same, then that means, in my opinion, the transition has been successful, and I think it has so far."