Observations from Red Sox' 3-2 win over Rays: Rusney Castillo makes play for right, Brian Johnson depth option

Mike Petraglia
March 29, 2015 - 1:33 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Rusney Castillo is making it harder and harder to leave him off the Opening Day roster. The Cuban outfielder, who has overcome oblique issues early in camp, showed again Sunday in a 3-2 10-inning win over the Rays at JetBlue Park why he is regarded as such a dynamic player, and why the Red Sox invested $72.5 million over seven years in his potential. With one out and the go-ahead runner at third in the top of the tenth of a 2-2 game, Castillo ranged far to his left, slid in foul territory and caught the ball just before it hit the grass. He popped up and fired a seed to catcher Matt Spring, who applied the tag on the runner trying to score for the inning-ending out. "I don't know that you can make a play better than the one he made," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Diving play into foul territory, gets up, sets his feet and throws a 150-foot strike. A dynamic player when you consider the skill set he has. If there was any question on whether he could play right field, I think he's certainly answering those for us in camp here. We were over in Jupiter, he handled a sinking line drive that was going towards the line. His reads and routes are fine. Obviously, he has enough arm to play the position. A very good athlete." "It turned out to be a good play," Castillo said. "I'm always kind of anticipating that kind of thing to happen. You have men on third in a big situation, you hope that you can make a play like that and execute the way it turned out. Just fortunate everything went our way. "It's just as natural to me as center field is. I played both center and right field in Cuba. It's not a new position. It's not a foreign position. I pretty comfortable in both." Leading off the bottom of the inning, he did not homer over the Monster, as he did to win the game against the Twins last Thursday. Instead, he settled for a single to left to open the inning. He advanced to second on a passed ball and sped to third on an Allen Craig fly to medium center. One out later, Castillo scored the game-winner again when Deven Marrero singled off the netting in left field for a 3-2 victory. Castillo is now batting .263 with five runs scored in his seven spring games. "I feel pretty good," Castillo said. "Thankfully, I'm healthy, having no restrictions. I feel good. My swing is in a good place." Other highlights Sunday included four innings from lefty starter Brian Johnson, who allowed six hits and two runs, striking out three and walking two. It was his sixth spring appearance and second start. Manager John Farrell indicated afterward that Johnson has definitely placed himself in the group of five depth starters behind the current rotation, a position from which he could realistically be called upon for a spot start sometime during the season. Johnson, the 24-year-old first-round pick by the Red Sox in 2012 out of Florida, sounded a confident tone after the game, which left him with a still-impressive 2.93 ERA this spring. "I just want to go out there and show them I can compete and give the team a chance to win every time I take the ball," Johnson said. "Other than that, work as hard as I can every day leading up to that. I'm confident with any pitch in any count. I threw a couple of 2-2 changeups, 3-2 cutters and 3-2 curveballs today. It didn't always work out but I'm confident when I throw it." "That's not something new for him," Farrell said. "Having gone to a major college program where the ability to throw multiple pitches in a 3-2 count is asked for, that's something he's learned and been asked to do for a number of years now." Johnson was victimized by some bleeding grounders that found their way to the shallow grass in the first two innings before settling down. "I don't ever want to feel like I'm back on my heels," Johnson said. "I always want to feel like I'm in control of the game. My pace is quick but that's the pack I like it. That stuff doesn't bother me. I can always feel confident to where I can get a ground ball and you're one pitch away from a double play. I don't let that stuff eat me up." "I thought he had good stuff overall," Farrell added. "I think the thing he is learning here in the number of outings he's had for us is just the consistent strike-throwing from pitch to pitch, hitter to hitter. He's a guy that typically has got good command of the strike zone. But I think a couple of times during the course of his outings there have base on balls that have led off an inning that have resulted in a run. But I think this has been a very productive spring so far. He's got one more outing on Friday but it's been a very productive and worthwhile experience for him here." As far as the bullpen is concerned, three of the five pitchers were among the group that Farrell mentioned before the game as candidates for late-inning action this season. As a whole, the pen allowed five hits over six scoreless innings. Edward Mujica allowed one hit and struck out a batter. Tommy Layne walked one in his inning of work and Junichi Tazawa got a nice around-the-horn doubleplay started by Brock Holt in his scoreless ninth inning. Jess Todd threw a scoreless tenth to earn the win. The Red Sox host the Minnesota Twins on Monday night at 7 p.m. at JetBlue Park, as Justin Masterson takes the mound for the Red Sox.
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