Wielding a hot bat at Triple-A Pawtucket while the woeful Red Sox lineup has struggled to score, Rusney Castillo likely knew that his 2015 Major League debut was inevitable. The 27-year-old right-handed hitter from Cuba, who was batting .365 (19-for-52) over his last 12 games after returning from the disabled list, was called up on Friday and is in the starting lineup. He is in the No. 8 spot and playing right field.
After inking a seven-year, $72 million contract last year, Castillo worked his way to Boston and batted .333 with two home runs in 10 games. To get more seasoning at the plate, he opened the 2015 campaign at Pawtucket and landed on the DL when he injured his shoulder making a diving catch. Overall at Pawtucket, Castillo was hitting .293 with two home runs, 10 RBI and a .781 OPS in 85 plate appearances.
Castillo joins a Red Sox lineup that has scored no more than two runs in 13 of 19 games in May. Though the starting rotation has pitched effectively since pitching coach Carl Willis debuted on May 9, the club is 19-22 and has dropped four of six. In those games, the offense is 6-for-38 with runners in scoring position, and it has produced no more than one run in each defeat.
Though Castillo’s long-term future could be in center field – he is a superb defensive outfielder – he will make his season debut in right field. Red Sox right fielders are batting .156 with a .496 OPS this year. The oft-injured Shane Victorino remains day-to-day with what the team is calling “general soreness.” Jackie Bradley, who saw time in right field but was 0-for-11 in his brief big league stint, was optioned to Pawtucket.