Jack Wilson’s benching in favor of Jose Castillo was noted previously in this space, and for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bob Smizik, the big question regarding the latter is, “why was a player of Castillo’s ability rarely playing on a team so short on talent?”
It was understandable Castillo had to win a job in spring training after three years as a regular. That was true even though he reported in close to prime condition. What was not understandable was that his opportunity to win a job was limited to third base. The Pirates handed second base to Freddy Sanchez, who had played third last year when winning the batting title. Castillo was left to compete with Jose Bautista for the job at third base.
Although Castillo batted .286 and Bautista .211 in spring training, it wasn’t all that unusual the job went to Bautista. After all, the Pirates were teaching Castillo a lesson.
But that lesson should have ended when the season began. What point is there to continue punishing a player when it negatively impacts the team?
Remember, this is the organization that welcomed back Chris Duffy after he had quit on it last year and soon enough gave him back his starting job in center field. This is the organization that put Ronny Paulino back in the starting lineup Monday after he had embarrassed himself and the team with his on-field laziness the week before.
There would be no such charity for Castillo, whom Tracy repeatedly has said owns more power than any other right-handed batter on the team. Imagine that! The Pirates had a second baseman with wondrous range and with more pop than Jason Bay, who hit 35 home runs last year and, while en route to another 90-loss season, they couldn’t get him into the lineup.