Toronto — In his first at-bat Friday night at Rogers Centre, the Tigers’ new man in right field, Nicholas Castellanos, ripped a liner to the warning track in center field.
It of course was hauled in by Blue Jays patrolman Kevin Pillar.
Castellanos hit a grand slam in his next at-bat. But a hitter’s cruel fate in 2017, it seems, is to pay a penalty for any hard-hit ball that doesn’t go the defense’s way.
Castellanos lined out to left in his final turn.
Saturday, in a game the Tigers lost, 5-4, to the Blue Jays, Castellanos singled to left in the fourth, which appeared to have incensed baseball’s gods.
In his next at-bat, in the sixth, with the score tied, 2-2, and Jeimer Candelario on third, Castellanos was invited to swing at a 3-0 pitch from Brett Anderson.
Castellanos drove the ball on an arc toward right field. It looked to be a sure single — until Jose Bautista made a diving catch that cost Castellanos an RBI and the Tigers what would have been a 3-2 lead.
There was still time for some Castellanos retribution. And he got it, somewhat, when in the ninth he blasted a double to right that Bautista wasn’t catching. It was the linchpin in a two-run rally that fell one run shy of tying the game.
It has been like this all season, Castellanos acknowledged afterward in the visitor’s clubhouse.
Line drive. Deep drive. Too many times, he is out.
“I’m hitting .255,” said Castellanos, who is more accurately at .257, “but I could easily be hitting .300.”
Castellanos' line-drive rate has been among the best in baseball in 2017. But he has indeed seemed to defy probabilities with his hard-hit bullets that so often find a defender’s glove.
Of some consolation this weekend is that Castellanos’ relocation to right has been smooth.
He has handled all chances smoothly. He has fielded base hits minus miscue and has made the right throw to the right infielders.
But the exasperation of hitting so many balls hard and trotting back to Detroit’s dugout has grated more than a bit.
“Hopefully,” Castellanos said with a bite to his voice and just the trace of a grin, “they’ll all drop next year and I’ll hit .700.”
Jose Iglesias has been reinstated from bereavement leave. But because of Hurricane Irma’s bead on Florida, Iglesias was still believed to be stranded Saturday in Miami.
“He’s still stuck in Florida,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, “and I’m not sure when we’ll see him.”