SHANNON DRAYER

Mariners Notebook: Where Luis Castillo stands after latest start

Mar 12, 2023, 6:01 PM

Mariners Luis Castillo...

Luis Castillo of the Seattle Mariners looks on from the dugout at Yankee Stadium. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

It appeared Mariners manager Scott Servais was getting most of his regulars a break Sunday – they were not in Seattle’s lineup and could be seen heading for the parking lot as those on the game roster suited up and and got ready to take on the Rangers in the main stadium. For them, there was work to be done, most notably Luis Castillo, who continues to work toward what most assume will be an opening day start.

“Soon,” answered Servais when asked if he was ready to name his Game 1 starter. “We have a couple good candidates.”

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Candidate No. 1 appeared to take a step forward in Sunday afternoon’s 11-10 win over the Rangers (box score). Castillo threw 3 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on two hits while walking one and striking out four (the damage was done on a Nathaniel Lowe home run in the first inning). Not quite end-of-the-season Castillo, but this is spring training. If this appears to be a slow start for Castillo, it is by design – mostly his – and he has confidence in the buildup program he has used the last six years.

“We are on a plan, but obviously we are not where we want to be,” Castillo said after the outing. “I feel good. As spring training rolls around, the intensity builds up a little bit and you keep working, getting ready for the beginning of the season.”

In his first two outings, Castillo’s fastball was sitting low 90s. Sunday he hit 95 mph on a few in the second inning. If fans have been a little nervous about the lower velocity, the Mairners are not. Castillo is a “lights on” pitcher with a history of starting slow in the spring. This is about the work, not the competition.

“With him, you are not going to see the electric velocity that we saw at the end of the season,” Servais said. “I don’t know if we will see that opening night. I think there will be a build to it, to his stuff. The unique thing about Luis is he doesn’t have to pitch at 97 mph to 100 to be effective. Some pitchers do. He doesn’t. The movement of his pitches, the release spot, I like what I have seen so far. It’s actually better than I thought it would be in camp. He’s in a good spot.”

For now, it’s about keeping Castillo in that good spot as he continues to build.

Mariners moves

Prior to Sunday’s game, the Mariners announced a handful of roster moves.

• Optioned to Triple-A Tacoma: RHP Easton McGee

• Optioned to Double-A Arkansas: RHP Juan Then

• Re-assigned to minor league camp: RHP Taylor Dollard; RHP Darren McCaughan; OF Alberto Rodriguez

With the moves, the Mariners now have 60 players in big league camp.

Notes

• Veteran outfielder AJ Pollock was scratched from Sunday’s original Mariners lineup as he was feeling under the weather.

• The Mariners travel to Tempe on Monday to take on the Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout-less Angels (both are playing in the World Baseball Classic). Left-handed pitcher Robbie Ray, who is coming off an off-day sim game, will make the start.

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