Detroit — If the days of Nick Castellanos wearing a Tigers uniform in Comerica Park are numbered, the stadium is giving him a sweet and sour sendoff.
On Sunday, the Tigers outfielder was the hero, hitting a walkoff home run to left field to give his team a 10th-inning win against Toronto. After the game, he made headlines by calling the cavernous ballpark a "joke." He doubled down early Wednesday morning, saying it hurts the pocketbooks of his offensive teammates.
“I’m good, but I’m just saying, you feel for these rookies who come in and like, ‘Man, I smashed that,’ ” he said. “Yeah man, you did smash it, but you’re playing here.”
Comerica Park struck again in a 15-inning loss on Tuesday as a deep fly ball to right field in the 11th inning was swallowed up before even reaching the warning track.
Then, in the 14th, Castellanos had another chance to play hero. After his MLB-leading 36th double to open the inning, he aggressively tore for home from second after a Brandon Dixon single.
Third-base coach Dave Clark gave the go-ahead for Castellanos to try to score, but official replays confirmed he was out on a bang-bang play.
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire backed up his third-base coach when asked if he second-guessed Clark.
“You’re really asking that question? Yeah, I would send him,” Gardenhire said. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, and if he didn’t I might take him off third base and he can sit with me. You’ve got to send him. It’s bang-bang at home.”
The Tigers would lose to Philadelphia 3-2, ruining a strong six-inning outing from Matthew Boyd and an even more impressive nine innings of one-run ball by the bullpen in the pitcher-friendly park.
During the game, the Phillies' TV crew reportedly showed an overlay of Castellanos’ hits this year, projecting that at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park, he would have 11 more home runs this season, double his current amount.
“So now what you should do is find out how many more I would have in ’18, in ’17, and in ’16, and in ’15 and in ’14, and you take all that, and now you figure out what salary group I’m in, the way arbitration works,” Castellanos said. “And you realize how much money and stuff is lost because of things like this.”
Castellanos said the ball he hit on Tuesday night was harder than a home run he hit to the same part of the ballpark last week at Cleveland’s Progressive Field.
The 27-year-old free-agent-to-be is fully aware that he’s squarely on the trade block leading up the July 31 trade deadline. His days at Comerica Park could be numbered — Wednesday afternoon’s game against Philly could even be his last at home in the Olde English D.
“Detroit is all I know,” Castellanos said. “But I do know that when you’re a kid, you dream of that opportunity of winning a World Series.
“Like I said in an interview two years ago, or ’17, or whenever it was, Plan A is obviously do that here, but in life, you don’t always get Plan A, man. So I’ve been dangled on this trade waiver wire now since, I feel like, 2017 ended.
“To try to speculate or guess or worry about what’s going to happen is just unnecessary. I did it a lot. I’m kind of over it. So I’m just having fun playing with these guys and whatever is going to happen is going to happen.”
Castellanos once again pointed out that Comerica Park also takes away from the career power numbers of Miguel Cabrera, who is a no-doubt Hall of Famer even while playing in the spacious stadium.
“If he got to play at some of the other parks that these guys play in, imagine what his numbers would look like,” he said. “I think that just speaks to how special that man is.”
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.