"Welcome to the bigs, kid."
The Dodgers lost their fourth straight to the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night, falling 6-2 to Zack Greinke and company. But the game did provide one highlight for the Dodgers, with the major league debut of Alex Castellanos.
After arriving from New Orleans about an hour before game time, Castellanos entered the game in the top of the eighth inning, playing left field. In the bottom of the inning he made his first plate appearance, and he was promptly hit in the left elbow, which was a little swollen and bandaged in ice after the game.
"It was fun," Castellanos said of his debut. "It just sucked that I got hit in the elbow."
Castellanos has been primarily an outfielder in the past few years, but this year he has made the transition to second base at Triple A. Manager Don Mattingly said he plans to use Castellanos mostly as an outfielder with the Dodgers, as his work at second base is still a work in progress.
"I still have a few things that I have to tweak here and there at second base but it's coming along fine," Castellanos said. "I'm getting more and more comfortable each day I play there. I just need more games under my belt."
Castellanos missed nearly a month earlier this season with a left hamstring injury, one that seemed born of stubbornness.
"My hamstring was kind of tight and I made a diving play in the outfield and felt it get a little tighter, and I just kept playing through it," Castellanos said. "They gave me a day off and I ended up having to pinch hit that day. I didn't really stretch or anything, and I hit a ground ball up the middle that I normally beat out. I tried to beat it out and just blew out (my hamstring)."
In his month of rehab, mostly at the Dodgers training facility at Camelback Ranch in Arizona, Castellanos saw teammate after teammate get the call to Los Angeles as the Dodgers suffered a rash of injuries. Scott Van Slyke, Justin Sellers, Elian Herrera, Jerry Sands, and Ivan De Jesus all made their way from Albuquerque to Los Angeles, while Castellanos was wondering what if, especially since Mattingly confirmed before Thursday's game that had Castellanos been healthy he would have been the first call up this season.
"I was in my hotel room, pulling my hairs but I got up here eventually, so I just gotta do what I gotta do," said Castellanos with a smile, a smile of a man who knows all that is in the past.
Mattingly said before Thursday's game that Castellanos would likely be in the lineup on Friday.
Castellanos appeared to steal his first major league base in the eighth inning, but he was ordered to go back to first base because the batter, Scott Van Slyke, was called out for batters interference, for impeding catcher Martin Maldonado's throw to second base.
Per MLB Rule 6.06 (c), a batter can be called out for interference if "he interferes with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batter’s box or making any other movement that hinders the catcher’s play at home base."
Mattingly argued, twice in fact, to home plate umpire Tony Randazzo that Van Slyke was never out of the batters box but that didn't appear to matter
"When we looked at the replay he's in the box, and never out of it. Maybe it's one of those rules they need to look at a little bit," Mattingly said.
"I asked him, 'If my catcher comes up and bumps a guy that's in the batters box then he's going to be out?', and he basically said yes," Mattingly said. "By the letter of the law he got it right, but it seems like the interpretation of that is a little weird.
After playing 18 of their last 23 games at home (and going 14-9 during that stretch), the Dodgers wear the road grays for the next 10 days. The journey begins at Coors Field Friday night, with Chris Capuano starting for the Dodgers, facing spot starter Josh Outman for the Colorado Rockies.