Among the latest today is Atlanta Braves outfielder Nick Markakis, a former Oriole.
Did Castro have any concerns about reporting to the O’s camp and playing this year?
“It is very unfortunate what is really happening,” Castro said through translator Ramón Alarcón. “Right now, the best you can do is control what you can. Try to follow the protocols as best as possible. Try to take care of yourself so you can take care of your teammates as well.
“I was scared about the situation (when home in the Dominican Republic). I was going out there on a daily basis, trying to train and prepare for the season. And every time I went out, you saw a lot of people that unfortunately were not wearing masks or following any sort of protocols as social distancing. So it is a very scary situation. The best you can do is try to take measures on your own and hopefully others can follow. Unfortunately, there were a lot of cases back home, but thankfully I was able to train without any issues.”
And if the season gets started and completed this summer, the 25-year-old Castro will try to improve on his 2019 season. After two O’s seasons with a sub-4.00 ERA, he went 1-3 with a 4.66 ERA last season. He finished 10th in the American League in relief innings at 73 1/3 and went more than one inning 23 times. He was durable and available often.
“When spring training was shut down and I went back home to the D.R., I rested for one week,” said Castro. “After that week, I started training and preparing myself for the season. I feel ready physically and mentally for the season and am able to do everything without any sort of limitations. Hopefully compete for a spot and be ready when the season starts.”
Castro pitched better in the second half with an ERA of 3.72 and average against of .183. He threw 9 2/3 scoreless innings between Aug. 25 and Sept. 17.
In his three seasons as an Oriole, Castro’s fastball usage has gone down as his slider has become an important pitch for him. He threw fastballs 63 percent of the time in 2017, 58 percent the next season and 49 percent in 2019.
“Last year was a learning season and a season of ups and downs,” he said. “When the season was over, in the offseason, I stayed in touch with my pitching coaches. They had some ideas on things to work on and try to improve and I applied those to my training. Right now, I’m working on my mechanics and right now feel confident with all my pitches.”
Several players, including Castro, have been asked about trying to form a close-knit team at a time when pitchers are in one clubhouse and position players in another.
“First of all, I am very happy to be here,” he said. “Very happy to train and to pitch. It is definitely a very difficult situation because you are used to being around with all of your teammates. Maybe shaking their hands, giving a fist bump and hugging guys. But now you have to face the reality that we all have to take care of each other and keep social distancing. And wear a mask. So it’s very strange, but right now, we just look to control what we can control and just get ready for the season.”