Nick Castellanos made a mistake Saturday night. He allowed himself to get picked off at second base when he failed to pay attention to his surroundings. This is not the first time the tall, young, hot-hitting third baseman has committed a mistake on the base paths or in the field. For Castellanos' blunders he has received criticism to the tune that a veteran would normally receive.
Meanwhile many have forgotten that this is his first full year playing at the major league level because so much has been made of Castellanos and his abilities. Castellanos certainly did not help his own cause when he outperformed everyone's expectations in spring training and carried that into the regular season. Through seven games this year, he's batting .269 with .345 on-base percentage and .462 slugging.
Castellanos also has a strong support system because of the "off the charts" baseball IQ which exists in the clubhouse, and his teammates will show him the finer points of baseball that he has not yet picked up on. Because let's face it, not everyone has the baseball IQ of Miguel Cabrera and sometimes players need to learn from their mistakes.
To his credit, Castellanos has not committed that many errors either with his glove or on the bases. The mistakes he has made were dealt with early on and the good thing is, he is getting these things out of the way now. Between the two options, it is better to see these small issues pop up in April and have Castellanos promptly rectify them, than have them remain hidden only to emerge later in the year, or even in the postseason and have it cost the Tigers dearly.
For example, while playing against the Baltimore Orioles on April 4, a game the Tigers won, 10-4, Castellanos tried to go for home from second base. His head was down and he did not see third base coach Dave Clark giving him the stop signal and was thrown out at third base. He has since corrected that.
Defensively, on Opening Day Castellanos misjudged the distance he had in foul territory to catch a pop foul ball and missed gloving it by inches, failing to record the out. Over the course of the next four home games, the issue was not present. Overall, only time will help Castellanos adjust to a new field.
Also on Opening Day, Castellanos tried to turn a single into a double and was tagged out at second base. However he immediately corrected it on his next single when he stopped at first base and the issue has not been seen or heard from since.
It should also be noted that Castellanos was forced to play in the outfield for the last two years after the Prince Fielder signing made third base an unlikely home. Now after Fielder was traded and Miguel Cabrera moved back across the diamond, Castellanos was moved back to the hot corner while being asked to perform like a seasoned veteran without much of any time at all to prepare.
While he is a third baseman by trade, adjusting to one position full time after being tossed around on the field for so long can be difficult. Yet, Castellanos worked hard all through the offseason to get accustomed to his role and has done an outstanding job. He is consistently one of the first ones present for batting practice and is not a slacker by any means on the field.
Therefore, considering how little time he has had to adjust, Castellanos has outperformed every expectation, both on the field and at the plate. Castellanos has given the Tigers-and fans-pure gold at the plate and his glove work is impressive on the field. And to think he is only 22 years old and only in his first full year in the majors.
Castellanos has already given everyone more than they should have expected. While this latest slip is not likely to be the very last of his career, rest in the comfort that he will not likely make any of them with regularity. Enjoy what Castellanos is already doing this season and allow him to get his footing. Meanwhile, let us not forget that it is only April and Castellanos is not the only Tigers player who has made an error or two (or three, or four) this season.