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Castilla seeking All-Star nomination

Cast your votes and send Castilla to Detroit

One doesn't have to look very far to see why the Nationals are contending in the National League East this season. Third baseman Vinny Castilla has provided offense, defense and leadership.

All the more reason Castilla should be considered for the NL All-Star team this summer. The All-Star Game will be played on July 12 at Comerica Park in Detroit, and there is still time to send Castilla to the Midsummer Classic.

Fans can cast votes for Castilla by going to MLB.com or by attending a game at any Major League park. In the second round of balloting, Castilla was not listed among the top five vote-getters for NL third basemen.

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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."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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