Castellanos hopes Sox continue to walk V-Mart to get to him
Chicago – Maybe White Sox manager Paul Molitor is on to something. Either that or he hasn’t updated his hitting charts on the Tigers.
Either way, he’s been getting away with it so far.
Three times in the first two games of this series, Molitor has walked Victor Martinez intentionally to get to Nick Castellanos.
He did it twice on Friday night, and was possibly trying to do it semi-intentionally another time, only Martinez foiled it by swinging at a 3-0 pitch.
“He’s done it a lot,” Castellanos said.
Castellanos is hitting .298 on the season, Martinez .291. But in July, Castellanos has been by far the hotter hitter. He’s hitting .281 with a .531 slugging percentage and .860 OPS. Martinez is hitting .156 in July.
Since the All-Star break, Martinez is 3-for-26.
There has been a right-handed pitcher on the mound for the White Sox in each of the three instances. So if it’s about preferring a right-hander on right-hander matchup with Castellanos, well, the numbers would suggest that’s counterintuitive, too.
Castellanos is hitting .322 against right-handers this season.
So, from a recent data standpoint, the move doesn’t seem to make sense.
Yet, the move has worked.
In the third inning Thursday, Martinez was walked to load the bases with two outs. James Shields stuck out Castellanos to end the inning.
In the first inning Friday, Martinez was walked with two outs and Miguel Cabrera at second base. Highly unusual in the first inning. And it looked like the move would cost the White Sox when Castellanos worked a walk off Jacob Turner.
But Turner was able to strike out Justin Upton to end the threat.
In the sixth inning, again after a two-out double by Cabrera, Molitor walked Martinez to get to Castellanos. Right-hander Tommy Kahnle got Castellanos to fly out to right field.
Castellanos hopes the White Sox continue the practice.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “If you’re going to walk somebody to pitch to me, I am going to dig in every time. I completely understand what they’re doing. Victor’s record speaks for itself. I understand.
“They’d rather take a chance with me rather than Victor. But it’s my job to show them they’ve got to stop doing that.”
Castellanos did have two hits in the game Friday. The first one came off Turner, a gritty nine-pitch at-bat after he was down in the count 0-2.
“Turner has great stuff,” Castellanos said. “I was just trying to get something out over the plate I could hit to the big part of the field. I kept fouling off sliders and what-not. Then he threw me a fastball and I was able to hit it up the middle.”
He also made a web-gem worthy diving play and force out on a ball smashed by Tim Anderson in the fifth inning.
He would, though, like to make the White Sox pay for walking Martinez in front of him and there’s a good chance he will get another shot. Martinez is hitting .500 (18-for-36) against Saturday starter Chris Sale. So if he comes up with first base open, you’d think Molitor would stay on script and have Sale put him on.
“You do press a little bit (in those situations),” he said. “Just have to try and relax and get a good pitch to hit. You can’t try to do too much.”