NEW YORK — Luis Castillo arrived at Yankee Stadium on Monday eager to meet his new teammates and inject himself in the middle of a playoff chase. But before diving into scouting reports for his Seattle debut on Wednesday, manager Scott Servais wanted the skinny on Castillo’s famous dreadlocks, clad in matching dye for his time with the Reds.
Will he change color? If so, to which one?
“Dam?” Mariners interpreter Freddy Llanos asks Spanish-speaking Castillo during his introduction. “Si,” Castillo replied with a wide grin.
It was a summing up moment of humor and levity as the two-time All-Star can leave the stress of trading speculation behind. The Mariners had aggressively chased Castillo before the lockout last season, and they were among six plus contenders for him for Tuesday’s Trade Deadline, including the Yankees, who he will face in the series finale.
“Of course I had heard all the rumors throughout the trip,” said Castillo, who was taken over on Friday. “I heard that five, six teams, a lot of rumors that a lot of teams were looking for me, but I was always focused, always focused on my work. And thankfully the trade is here in Seattle now and I’m here, and I’m happy.”
He’s also excited to move from a 21-game under .500 team to a team that went into the week taking the second AL Wild Card spot.
“You get to a team that’s so close to the postseason,” Castillo said. “And so all that’s left is to just keep doing what the team did and work hard. And I’m sure we’ll get there. . .. The Mariners are close. But yeah, now that I’m on the team, we’ll see what happens.”
Castillo pitched a bullpen session Monday in preparation for his first Mariners start, which he will make against five-time All-Star Gerrit Cole in what should be a decent match-up — maybe even a taste of what could be coming in October .
“He will be a great asset to us,” said Servais. “I’m looking forward to seeing him get out and pitch. I know he threw a bullpen today, and the guys were really excited about what they saw there, as they should be. He’s got elite stuff.”
The Mariners acquired Castillo to be a top player, despite having a remarkably consistent and, even more impressively, healthy staff all season. But their draft beyond Robbie Ray, Logan Gilbert, Marco Gonzales, Chris Flexen and George Kirby is meagre, and Kirby will continue to have to deal with workload management decisions the rest of the way. Gilbert could also fall into that category, but the addition of Castillo will help reduce that.
With Thursday’s off-day and Saturday’s doubleheader against the Angels, Seattle will use all six starters in turn next time, then the Mariners make decisions with greater scope. But Monday was more about Castillo adjusting to his new clubhouse, where he joined former Reds team-mates Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez, who were taken over in March.
“We’ve been in constant communication,” Castillo said. “They have helped me a lot and seen what to expect from Seattle. But yeah, like all the other teammates, they just kind of roped me in to tell me what Seattle is like. ”
The Mariners said goodbye to three of their Top 5 prospects, including infielders Noelvi Marte (No. 1) and Edwin Arroyo (No. 2) and pitcher Levi Stoudt (No. 5), along with unranked pitcher Andrew Moore. To make way for Castillo on the 26-man roster, reliever Brennan Bernardino was given an option on Triple-A Tacoma.
“I feel like the team has welcomed me very well,” Castillo said. “I’m excited and happy to be here.”
And what about that long-term hair? Will we see Northwest Green soon?
“I like adding different colors to add a little personality,” Castillo said with a smile.
One thing is certain: Servais, who famously made his hair to match Edwin Díaz after closing in on his 50th save for Seattle in 2018, won’t be making similar bets this time around.
“We’re not going to bet on that,” Servais laughed. ‘That’s a good one. I like it. That won’t be a bet. I can guarantee that.”