Luis Castillo made his spring training debut on Friday night against the Seattle Mariners. Castillo arrived late to spring training and has been about a week behind other pitchers, but looked right on schedule as he tossed 2.0 hitless innings with a walk and a strikeout.
“I felt good out there,” said Castillo. “I wasn’t 100% comfortable because it was my first time out. But it was a first start and I got a chance to go pitch against some guys.”
While it was only two innings of work, Castillo felt good about where he was able to locate the ball. That said, he did have a few pitches he would have liked to thrown a bit better.
“I felt like the location of my pitches was really good,” Castillo said. “Some of my offspeed stayed over the plate, but it’s the first start so we’ll keep working on it.”
Everyone in baseball knows that Luis Castillo’s best pitch is his change up. And he also throws his fastball in the mid-to-upper 90’s – his 96.7 MPH average fastball is the 5th highest among starting pitchers over the last two seasons. On Friday night those were the two pitches he was working with, throwing just one slider. He expects to utilize the breaking ball more as he gets more innings under his belt.
“I only brought it (the slider) out once, and it didn’t turn out for a strike so I kept it my back pocket. But I’ve been working on it a lot in bullpen sessions, so it’s still there. As we’re working on it, we’ll have better confidence in using that pitch as the season moves on.”
Brandon Finnegan is thankful
Prior to the game on Friday night, the Reds called Brandon Finnegan into the office. The news was good for the lefty. Cincinnati had officially invited him to join big league camp from the “early minor league camp” that he was initially a part of. That was one of 13 roster moves made on the afternoon.
“Honestly, I was shocked,” said Finnegan. “Getting called in usually this early is not a good sign. I was so happy, I’ve been through a lot the last few years and it sucks, but I just kept trying to work and work and get back to where I know I belong – and that’s on the big league field pitching for a big league team. I want to help this team win in any way I possibly can. Hopefully something comes of it, but I’m very, very thankful for them to give me this opportunity.”
On a night without his best stuff, Brandon Finnegan still performed well. The lefty tossed 2.0 perfect innings with two strikeouts to complete what had to be one of the better days he’s had in baseball in a while.
“Velo was a little down, but I made a lot of good pitches,” Finnegan said. “I made some bad ones, but the defense was placed in the right positions. Seager hit a ball really hard back up the middle and thankfully Dee (Strange-Gordon) was right there. Then of course Kyle Lewis did the exact same thing the next at-bat and Jonathan (India) was there. Other than that, I got some weak contact and I got a couple of strikeouts. It was a good day for not having my best stuff.”
No plan for India to play shortstop
Along with Brandon Finnegan, Jonathan India also got a call up with an invite to big league camp on Friday. The infielder has spent much of his career at third base and second base, but has had a few games at shortstop when he was in his first professional season. In 2019 with Daytona and Chattanooga he only saw action at second and third base. With his primary positions blocked by All-Stars Mike Moustakas and Eugenio Suárez, and at least for the time being shortstop being the spot up for grabs on the team, at least some speculation was out there as to whether he could get some reps at the position. Manager David Bell put that to rest on Friday.
“I don’t think he’ll play much short,” said Bell after Friday’s game. “I wouldn’t rule it out, but no current plans to play him at short.”
Things can always change, but if spring training isn’t the time to plan it when you have six guys vying for the position, and the future plan is for Jose Garcia to take over the position, then it just isn’t something that’s going to happen. There’s nothing wrong with that if the team doesn’t believe that India can play shortstop from a defensive perspective.