Castellanos' old hitting style is difference in victory

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — Manager Brad Ausmus often pitches batting practice to the same group of hitters and Nick Castellanos is in that group.

Wednesday he noticed something different about Castellanos during pregame BP.

"He was much more aggressive, attacking the ball," Ausmus said. "There was a noticeable difference in how he was attacking the ball."

Sometimes pregame batting practice, much like a pitcher's bullpen session, is a lousy barometer of how a player will perform that night. Other times, like in Castellanos' case, it's spot-on.

Castellanos had two hits Wednesday, and it was his two-out, bases-loaded triple in the eighth that provided the margin in the Tigers' 5-2 win.

"I could've run to third base, from third base back to first base, and then back to third base again," Castellanos said. "I was that excited."

And if he looked like a different hitter in BP before the game, well, he was.

"Before the game, I was talking to my dad and I was talking to the hitting coaches," he said. "Wally (Joyner) talked to me, just telling me, 'You're a good hitter. Just go out there and hit.'

"Lately, I've been getting really mechanical, trying to have the perfect swing. You see the way J.D. (Martinez) swings, and the way Miguel (Cabrera) swings, and you see how good hitters they are, and you want to hit like them."

But Joyner and assistant hitting coach David Newhan have been trying to convince him that Nick Castellanos is a pretty good hitter in his own right.

"They made a great point," Castellanos said. "Hey, they're great at what they do, you're great the way you do it. You don't have to try to adjust to the way they do it. You can have success with the way you're (used to) hitting. So that's what I did.

"Coming up, I've always been kind of tall, free and easy, and I went back to that — and I felt pretty comfortable."

It was a four-RBI night for Castellanos. The fourth was pure hustle. With the bases loaded and nobody out in the fourth, he hit what looked like a sure double-play grounder to shortstop. With the help of a hard slide by Tyler Collins at second, he was able to beat the relay at first.

"Obviously, you bust down the line because you want the RBI," he said. "And you also want to bust down the line, because if you have first and third and one out, that's another run we could possibly score with a fly ball.

"That credit pretty much goes to Tyler Collins. He did a great job of taking out the second baseman."

Collins, in his second game since being recalled from Toledo, knows the key to success for Castellanos is keeping him loose and relaxed. When Castellanos got to third base after the triple, he looked into the dugout where Collins playfully crushed a cup on his head.

"He was dying," Collins said of Castellanos' reaction. "When he's loose, he's at his best. Getting a hit like that is going to be so good for him."

And what's good for Castellanos will be doubly good for the Tigers offense.