After Castilla signed a free agent contract with the Nationals in November, there were some baseball observers who questioned whether or not he could be productive outside of Coors Field, where offensive numbers are known to be inflated because of the thin air.
However, Castilla has proven that theory wrong. Entering Monday's action, Castilla was hitting .281 with four home runs and 30 RBIs, which rank second on the team. Castilla said that people forget that he hit 21 home runs and drove in 51 on the road last year for the Rockies.
"People are going to find out something bad about you," Castilla said. "I understand that now. Before, I used to get mad. I just go out there every day and help my team win."
Teammate Brian Schneider said he knew that Castilla was a good hitter outside of Coors Field. He pointed out that Castilla did a lot of damage against the Expos, when Castilla was a member of the Braves.
"I don't care what people say about Coors Field. I played against this guy when he played for the Braves," Schneider said. "No matter where he's at, Vinny is potent with his bat. He has shown he can do that throughout his career."
Castilla's offense has overshadowed his great defense. It seems like every game, Castilla grabs a tough hop, leaps and throws a runner out at first or a makes a tough catch near the stands.
"He keeps us in the ballgame, especially with his defense. He's always making grabs down the line," Nationals closer Chad Cordero said.
In the clubhouse and on the field, Castilla is providing the leadership interim general manager Jim Bowden expected. While he's not a rah-rah type, Castilla said he'd like to lead by example.
"I don't want to lead by talking a lot. I want to show my teammates that I'm ready to play every day," Castilla said. "If you're a rookie or a young kid, they should watch the veterans on how they handle themselves. When it's 7:05 [p.m.], I'm ready to play. If I need to work on something, I work on it."