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Castellanos welcomes All-Star consideration

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Nick Castellanos talks with Cameron Maybin in the seventh inning.

Detroit – Should Tigers Nick Castellanos be in the All-Star conversation among American League third basemen?

“I’d be shocked if he wasn’t in the conversation,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “He should be talked about as a candidate for the All-Star game. He’s got to continue to play well, but there is no reason not to talk about it.”

J.D. Martinez agreed.

“For sure,” he said. “Look at his numbers. He’s having a great year.”

It’s a biased sample, for sure, but the numbers do bear witness.

Entering play Monday, Castellanos’ .315 average was second to Indians Jose Ramirez among American League third basemen. His .543 slugging percentage and .889 OPS are second only to Baltimore’s Manny Machado. His 10 home runs are fifth.

Statistically, he is having a better year than reigning MVP Josh Donaldson (.250, .500 slugging, .856 OPS), Adrian Beltre (.274, .476 slugging, .805 OPS) and Evan Longoria (.281, .533 slugging and .872 OPS).

“The All-Star Game would be a good experience,” Castellanos said. “But that’s not my focus. That’s not why I go out there every day and play.”

Being in the discussion, though, is certainly validation for the work he has put in, both offensively and defensively. He’s made huge strides in this his third season.

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“It would, but there are a lot of games between now and the All-Star Game,” he said. “If it’s meant to be, then it’s meant to be. If not and we’re in first place by the All-Star break, I’m going to be just as happy as I would if I was picked for the game.”

Told that Machado, Donaldson and Beltre are likely to be the leaders in the fan vote, Castellanos said, “Rightfully so.”

Typically, players get the proper recognition the year after their first break-out year, which this is shaping up to be for Castellanos.

“You’ve got to kind of make a name for yourself before anyone really knows you,” said J.D. Martinez, who was named to his first All-Star Game last year, the year after his breakout season in 2014.

Said Castellanos: “I’ll say this, if the fans vote me in, it would be a privilege to represent Detroit in San Diego. And I would do it with a very happy heart.”

No moves

With outfield prospect JaCoby Jones promoted from Double-A Erie to Triple-A Toledo Sunday night, the Mud Hens have somewhat of a log-jam of players who need to play – Steven Moya, Tyler Collins, Anthony Gose and now Jones.

The Tigers, meanwhile, continue to operate with an extra pitcher and one fewer position player on the 25-man roster. It seems ripe for a change, with possibly one of those outfielders coming back to the Tigers.

But Ausmus said no such move was imminent.

“There are no plans to do anything,” he said.

Jones is expected to play both in center field and third base. Clearly, though, his speediest path to the big leagues is in center.

“Right now we have Nick (Castellanos) at third, who is young and under team control,” Ausmus said. “So if you look at it from an organizational standpoint, center field is more attractive for him if he can play center field. At Comerica Park, center field is massive.”

Around the horn

…Ausmus was teammates with Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin with the Dodgers late in his career. He had high praise for him. “He was probably the single most athletic player I’ve ever played with,” he said. “He’s not as young as he was when I played with him, but just as a pure athlete, he could run, jump, he had a good arm and he was strong as an ox. He was extremely athletic.”

…Ausmus said Anibal Sanchez, recently relegated to the bullpen, has been available to pitch the last four days. The hope is Sanchez would be able to make his first relief appearance in a low-pressure situation.

…With the win Sunday, Justin Verlander improved his career record at Comerica Park to 85-45. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Verlander is one of three active pitchers to be more than 40 games over .500 at any stadium. Clayton Kershaw is 69-29 at Dodgers Stadium and Jered Weaver is 76-32 at Angels Stadium.