The last trip to the mound by Miguel Castro in an exhibition game resulted in three batters faced and three strikeouts. He left on such a high note that it should have come with a safety net.
There’s no real momentum in baseball. It’s been described as the next day’s starting pitcher. And any drops of it would have evaporated since Castro received his congratulatory handshakes and hugs in the visiting dugout at the Yankees complex in Tampa.
Castro blew through the Yankees on March 6, learned six days later that spring training was stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic and eventually made his way back home to the Dominican Republic.
In his three appearances totaling three innings, Castro didn’t allow a hit or a run and bounced back from a three-walk debut on Feb. 25 against the Rays. He did some work on the back fields rather than be used in games, which explains the gap between his final outing and the shutdown.
What’s Castro doing now besides donating and delivering food and essential items to his fellow Dominicans residing in poorer communities?
He’s still trying to concentrate on baseball.
“Fortunately I’m able to train basically from Monday through Saturday at a field. Basically private training,” Castro said Friday afternoon via translator Ramón Alarcón in a video call.
“I’ve been able to throw a lot of bullpens.”
Castro is increasing the intensity level this week by facing hitters for the first time.
“So despite the situation,” he said, “I can work out and try to get ready for whatever happens in the future.”
A second spring training would be arranged if the season is greenlighted. Castro would have to ramp back up at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota, if that’s the actual arrangement. Get the competitive juices flowing again and become game ready.
And avoid injury, which is trickier after such a long separation from the team and athletic training staff.
“I think that the most important thing is to be healthy,” he said.
“Right now I’m healthy, I’m 100 percent. I’m able to train every single day. And whenever spring training starts, whether Arizona, whether Florida, wherever that is, I think I’ll be able to go out there and be ready to compete because fortunately I’ve been able to train every single day.”
Avoiding arbitration in his first year of eligibility by signing for $1.05 million, Castro is expected to be part of an expanded Orioles bullpen that could further stretch out if opening day rosters increase beyond 26 players. He’s viewed as one of the locks - in large part because he’s out of options - along with Hunter Harvey, Mychal Givens, Shawn Armstrong, Richard Bleier and Paul Fry.