The Mariners acquired Castillo from the Cubs in a trade for reliever Yoervis Medina late Monday night.
BALTIMORE – Welington Castillo wandered around the clubhouse before Wednesday’s game at Camden Yards, meeting teammates and coaches, learning signals and trying to get acclimated after a full Tuesday spent traveling across the country.
The Mariners acquired Castillo from the Cubs in a trade for reliever Yoervis Medina late Monday night. Castillo left San Diego, where the Cubs were playing, and flew to Baltimore. He arrived Tuesday night.
“I was shocked,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting it. Now I’m here. It was a long day yesterday. Now I’m here and ready to go. I’m really excited to be here.”
Castillo spent his entire career with the Cubs, signing as a non-draft free agent in 2004. The organization was all he’d ever known. The new situation was a bit surreal.
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“It’s a little weird, but it feels good to be here,” he said. “It’s good … and the right place to be to win games, and that’s all that matters.”
Manager Lloyd McClendon isn’t going to ease Castillo in slowly. With a 12:35 p.m. local start for Thursday’s finale with the Orioles, Castillo will get the start in the day game after the night game. He’ll catch J.A. Happ.
The short turnaround for Castillo means he’ll have to learn all about Happ and what he wants to do quite quickly, as well as the relievers.
“I think that’s the hard part of this,” Castillo said. “I’m new. Everybody is new to me. I’m going to go out during (Wednesday’s) game and just talk to pitchers and see what they got and what they like to do.”
He has a more advanced plan for getting to know Happ.
“I’m going to go and sit and watch video with him and go over the lineup, ask him, ‘What do you want to do, what do you like to do? What’s your first pitch? What’s your last pitch? What’s the pitch you throw behind in the count for a strike?’” Castillo said. “Stuff like that. I want take out the doubt.”
For Castillo, this will be a chance to play more. He was the third catcher on the Cubs and had started just eight games. He admitted the sparse playing time made it difficult to find a comfort level at the plate. While he won’t be playing every day with the Mariners, he hopes to get more normal playing time than an at-bat here or a start there.
“I’m going to get my mind clear here,” he said, “get a new (mindset) here and start over like it’s spring training and get ready as fast as I can.”
• The possibility of Austin Jackson returning to the Mariners this weekend in Toronto seems to be fading. Jackson, who is rehabbing his sprained left ankle with Class AAA Tacoma, played nine innings on Tuesday. The complete game came with repercussions. “The ankle is still a little swollen,” McClendon said.
Jackson will stay with the Rainiers and play against the I-Cubs in Iowa on Thursday.
“We’ll see how he does tomorrow and see how he feels from there,” McClendon said. “I think the big thing is that I stressed to Austin is, ‘Make sure you are honest with me in your evaluation.’ He even admitted that he’s not quite there yet. We aren’t going to rush this.”
The Mariners play back-to-back series on turf in Toronto then Tampa, which places a lot of strain on players’ ankles and knees. Playing Jackson in those games would be counterproductive.
• Turf is an issue. Organizations and the players’ union have voiced complaints about Toronto and Tampa. They’ve actually put in new turf in the Rogers Centre, and it hasn’t received great reviews. “I’m not excited about playing six straight games on turf even with healthy players,” McClendon said. “From what I’ve been told, Toronto is very soft, very slow and very hard on the legs.”
• Besides the official roster move of placing Castillo on the roster, the M’s made a couple of other personnel decisions. Lefty Edgar Olmos, who has been on the disabled list since spring training with a shoulder impingement, has been reinstated and optioned to Tacoma.
The Mariners also signed veteran right-hander Kevin Gregg to a minor-league contract. He’ll join the Rainiers Thursday in Iowa. Gregg was released by the Reds after posting a 0-2 record with a 10.13 ERA in 11 appearances. With Medina being traded and Forrest Snow and Justin Germano both moved to starting because of injuries and the promotion of Roenis Elias, Gregg provides some depth in the bullpen.