CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — Shortly after his introductory news conference with the Philadelphia Phillies, Nick Castellanos went to a back field at the team’s Spring Training complex and fielded grounders at third base.
The All-Star slugger hasn’t played the position since 2017, but he’s ready just in case.
“Whatever the team needs, I have a Philly hat,” Castellanos said on Wednesday.
Alec Bohm is Philadelphia’s regular third baseman so Castellanos can stick to outfield play for now.
“Our plan is to play him left and right and in DH,” said manager Joe Girardi. “He still likes to take groundball so he will do that. It’s part of his routine. When he’s there my eyes will open.”
Castellanos received a $100 million, five-year contract from the Phillies after a career season in Cincinnati. He batted .309 for the Reds last year with 34 homers, 100 RBIs and .939 OPS, making his first All-Star team and winning the Silver Slugger Award. He is a .278 career hitter in nine major league seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs and Reds with 168 home runs, 594 RBIs and a .814 OPS.
Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski and Agent Scott Boras explained Castellanos’ work ethic and his desire to improve.
How much better could that be?
“I think we’ll find out, right?” Castellanos said.
Dombrowski was the Tigers’ president and general manager when they drafted the Castellanos in 2010, and he debuted with Detroit in 2013. The Phillies added slugger Kyle Schwarber last week and with Castellanos still available, Dombrowski convinced ownership to cross the luxury tax threshold to sign him. ,
“I know what a good player he is and what a good hitter he is and what he brings to a team,” Dombrowski said. “He is one of the leading hitters in baseball. He brings more than just a bat to the lineup. With his determination, the winning atmosphere, the chemistry he brings to the clubhouse, he is a championship type of person.”
Philips Managing Partner John Middleton didn’t hesitate to sign the check.
“It was a short conversation,” Middleton said. “I started interrupting him because I knew where it was going and I was fine with it.
Castellanos and Schwarber join reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper in the middle of a Phillies lineup that also includes All-Star catchers JT Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Gene Segura and Didi Gregorius.
The Phillips are relying on their offense to help them end their NL-worst, 10-year drought after.
“I’ve played over 1,000 big league games and I’ve had zero playoff wins,” Castellanos said. “I’ve made money, I’ve hit homers, I’ve played on TV, but I haven’t won any games that matter. I would like to do that.”
Harper pushes the Phillies to make a deal. Boras, who negotiated a $330 million, 13-year deal for Harper to come to Philadelphia in 2019, joked that the two-time NL MVP called him four times a day to help make Castellanos his partner .
“He’s really made for this kind of audience,” Boras said. “I think everyone in Philadelphia will understand that there’s no bullshit with Nick. It’s, ‘I have to win, I want to win, I never won, I’m going to win.’ Such is his attitude.”
NOTES: Schwarber made his Phillies debut at 0 for 3 at the leadoff spot as the designated hitter in an 8-7 win over Toronto on Wednesday. … CF Adam Hussley was 1 for 3 with an RBI. The Phillies have a wide open competition for center field. Matt Weirling is a prime candidate. Odubel Herrera could join Vierling in a platoon after recovering from a rib/oblique injury.
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