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Don’t look now, but Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo isn’t useless

03.07.17 at 12:33 pm ET
Rusney Castillo

Rusney Castillo

It’s only 11 at-bats, but considering the way Rusney Castillo started camp, he and the Red Sox will take them.

Castillo was castigated for failing to run out a ground ball at the start of camp — an unforgivable lapse for a player who’s making $72.5 million despite losing his spot on the 40-man roster — but Castillo has bounced back since.

He leads the Red Sox in hitting so far this spring (.545) and is 6-for-11 with three doubles. He has hit the ball with authority in reserve appearances, and will start on Thursday when the Red Sox face the Mets in Port St. Lucie.

“He has gotten some pitches in the zone to handle,” manager John Farrell said. “He’s played well above average defense in center field. He’s starting tomorrow against the Mets. He’s come off the bench almost every game. That’s not an easy thing to do. But in his case, he’s grabbing the at-bats and the reps when they’re available to him. After the lapse on the ball just running it out, he’s been very good, as far as the attention to detail and whatever decisions he’s had to make inside the lines.”

Of course, there’s more to Castillo’s roster aspirations than performance. As we detailed during the offseason, because Castillo has been dropped from the 40-man roster, adding him back in order to activate him would cost the team almost $60,000 a day towards the luxury tax.

Farrell said Castillo should just focus on his performance.

“We recognize that he is not on the roster, so he’s got to perform his way to get back on it,” Farrell said. “If there’s anything he might perceive as restricting him, you’ve just got to outperform it.”

“It really gets pretty simple, honestly,” Farrell added. “For all that we talk about it, for any guy, it’s simple. Just go out and play. That’s easier said than done, but you go out and produce, see what happens. You could say the same about Allen Craig. Both guys are having pretty good springs. I don’t think they’re thinking about their contracts. That’s where they are.”

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