Castillo getting results from hard work

Cuban hits long home run, seeing signs of progress

Castillo getting results from hard work

BOSTON -- Perhaps the price-tag has preceded the player too much. Yes, the Red Sox spent $72.5 million on Rusney Castillo, and he hasn't made a major impact just yet. But it's simply too early to label him a disappointment.

Castillo belted a titanic home run to left-center -- estimated to travel 429 feet by Statcast™ -- in Thursday night's 8-2 victory over the White Sox. The blast served as a reminder of what he is capable.

"Yeah, I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable, especially at home plate. Thank God everything up to this point feels good," Castillo said through interpreter Adrian Lorenzo.

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The Cuban outfielder is still getting acclimated, and has had just 122 at-bats since signing the seven-year contract last August that will keep him under the control of the Red Sox until 2020.

It is very much a long-term investment, and the key is that Castillo takes incremental steps along the way and avoids some of the nagging injuries that have gotten in his way so far.

"He's handled the ball in better than he did the previous time with us," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "The sinkerballer that throws the ball down and in to him would tie him up. I think, as he's gotten more at-bats, he looks more fluid and relaxed and not trying to force the issue at the plate. The bat speed is very good. But I think the most impressive thing is that he's handled the ball close to him better than he did previous."

Castillo, who is expected to play regularly for the Red Sox down the stretch, is just happy to see some of his work paying off.

"It's something I definitely focused in on recently. Something I became aware of and starting to make adjustments to it. Thankfully, it's starting to pay dividends," Castillo said.

The homer came against Jose Abreu's team. And earlier this week, Abreu, who has been a stud since breaking in with the White Sox, gave his countryman a vote of confidence.

"He's not only a countryman, but also a good friend," Castillo said. "He was a good teammate when we played together. It's nice to hear that he said that. But as far as if I'm going to get to that point, obviously I am [trying to], but it's important for me to stay disciplined in what we're doing and not get too far ahead of myself. Stay on track."

It was also Castillo who started the big four-run rally in the sixth inning with a tapper that White Sox ace Chris Sale couldn't make a play on.

"A home run is always more enjoyable, but given the fact that that started the rally in that situation, that was pretty enjoyable, too," said Castillo.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.