Castillo has big task ahead of him with O's

Catcher to get crash course with pitchers before leaving for Classic

Castillo has big task ahead of him with O's

SARASOTA, Fla. -- In a perfect world, Welington Castillo would have plenty of time to acclimate to his new team and new pitching staff. But that may not be the case.

The 29-year-old Castillo, who was signed by the Orioles as a free agent this winter, is one of several notable players for Baltimore who will leave camp for an extended period to play in the World Baseball Classic.

"I know the culture, they take great pride in it," said executive vice president Dan Duquette of Castillo playing for the Dominican Republic. "It's a nice honor for Welington, but it's not the best development for the Orioles, who have a new catcher in camp. And he needs to learn our pitchers and learn how to work with them. So that process is going to take a little more time to develop.

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"We're going to have a crash course. A lot of the work is done in the bullpen [sessions]. We're going to have to keep that in mind. Castillo knows he has to learn the pitchers and gain the confidence of the pitchers and the staff."

Castillo and third baseman Manny Machado will leave March 5 to play, while center fielder Adam Jones and reliever Mychal Givens leave March 6 for Team USA. Second baseman Jonathan Schoop, part of the Netherlands team, will leave camp Feb. 28.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter will have to play those guys early to make sure they're ready to go. Showalter admitted he's hoping none of those teams advance very far, so he can selfishly have his squad back in camp and get them ready for the Major League season.

Though that squad does look a little different with Castillo behind the plate instead of free agent Matt Wieters, who had been with Baltimore since before Showalter arrived.

"I talked to Matt a couple of days ago … I haven't gotten that nostalgic about it, yet," Showalter said. "They have a lot of guys to pick to be there to catch for the Dominican, and they picked him, OK? That tells you a little bit about his stature, and I have respect for what he brings, too. Matt would be the first to say that. He's a humble kid. He's a pleaser.

Showalter said Castillo has big shoes to fill but thinks he can succeed.

"I want to be fair to him. He's the guy who's wearing our uniform this year," Showalter said. "We'll embrace him. Everybody loved Matt, but they will also find things to like about Welington."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.