Remember back in early May when Orioles second baseman Alexi Casilla sat at his locker in the visiting clubhouse at Target Field and informed reporters that he was prepared to give up switch-hitting and concentrate on batting exclusively from the right side?
Well, forget it.
Casilla told me yesterday that he’s decided to continue batting from both sides of the plate. The experiment is over.
“I’m going to stay hitting from the left side, too. I’m going to keep switch-hitting,” he said.
“It’s easy to just get rid of my left side hitting, but why? If I’m doing something wrong from my left side, I’ve just got to work on what I’m doing wrong and get better. I decided that I’m going to work on what I need to get better and I’m going to keep it.”
It’s not like Casilla’s splits are terribly lopsided. He’s posted a career .246/.307/.339 line from the left side of the plate and a .258/.298/.322 line from the right side. This season, he’s 5-for-26 with a triple, two RBIs, three walks and eight strikeouts from the left side, and 10-for-41 with three RBIs, three walks and three strikeouts from the right side.
It’s not the same as Wilson Betemit’s splits, which strongly suggest that he should bat exclusively from the left side.
Casilla had been taking batting practice from the right side against right-handers at the suggestion of the Orioles, who reasoned that he could drive the more more effectively that way. He’s a natural right-handed hitter.
Casilla pointed out yesterday how it takes an extra step or two leaving the box from the right side to beat out a ground ball.
“I’ve got the bunt, I’ve got a lot of weapons from the left side that I can use in a game to get on base,” he said.
So while the Orioles are busy transforming some of their minor league pitchers into sidearmers and knuckleballers, they will allow Casilla to keep switch-hitting. Their experimentation only goes so far.
Casilla didn’t start last night after jamming his right index finger during Sunday’s game against the Rays. The Angels are starting left-hander Jason Vargas tonight, so Casilla is definitely in the lineup if his finger is healed.