Twins non-roster invite Willi Castro makes his case to make the team
Former Tiger having strong spring for Minnesota
FORT MYERS, Fla. — When utilityman Willi Castro was weighing his free-agent options this offseason, he turned to second baseman Jorge Polanco for some intel on the Minnesota Twins.
“I was like, ‘How’s Minnesota? How’s the organization?’ ” Castro said. “He told me, ‘It’s the best choice you can make.’ I decided to come here.”
Ironically, it’s an injury to Polanco — he will begin the season on the injured list with a knee issue — that might help Castro, a non-roster invite, nab a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Well, that and a solid spring showing.
Castro, who went 0 for 2 in the Twins’ 11-0 win over the Red Sox on Wednesday night at JetBlue Park is hitting .273 with a 976 OPS. His nine hits, seven runs scored and nine RBIs are all at least tied for second among his teammates.
“There’s really nothing that Willi hasn’t shown us. He’s hungry, too,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He plays hard. He works hard every day and every drill we’re doing. He gives it everything that you could ask a player to give.”
And he hopes that’s enough to help him crack the Opening Day roster.
The Twins’ position player core looked set this spring with the signing of Donovan Solano, but with Polanco and Alex Kirilloff now set to begin the season on the IL, Castro could be the beneficiary.
“I think this is one of the best spring trainings that I’ve had,” he said. “It’s been a couple of years. I think I’ve showed the stuff that I have, the tools that I have, the abilities that I have. That’s the main stuff I’ve been focusing on when I came to camp, just trying to do my best. Wherever they put me, whatever position, I get the job done.”
Castro rotated around the field last season for the Detroit Tigers, appearing at nearly every position. He enjoys it, he said, and the versatility is something the Twins value. He’s versatile at the plate, too, as a switch hitter.
In 112 games with Detroit last year, Castro he slashed .241/.284/.367, and he was surprised to be non-tendered at season’s end. It was tough at first, he said, but soon other teams were calling. The Twins were one of the first to make him an offer and after weighing his options, he chose a spot where he thought he would be comfortable.
“I think I made a good choice,” he said.
That choice could soon pay dividends. And while he said Tuesday that he had not yet been told anything about his status for Opening Day, it’s possible he could be headed to Kansas City next week with the major league team.
“I know the mentality that I came in (with). I just want to make the roster,” Castro said. “I just came in ready for everything. For now, I’m doing pretty good. I’ve just got to keep it that way and see what happens.”
The Twins have reassigned five players to minor league camp: Andrew Bechtold, Mark Contreras, Jair Camargo, Randy Dobnak and Brock Stewart. … Jose Miranda (shoulder) played in the field for the first time in a Grapefruit League game this spring, manning first base. Both Miranda and Kyle Farmer cleared the Green Monster at jetBlue Park. … Trevor Larnach finished the day 4 for 4, a triple away from the cycle.
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