CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Something to keep an eye on:
After his introductory news conference Wednesday, Nick Castellanos took ground balls at third base on the practice infield in front of BayCare Ballpark.
He did so under the supervision and tutelage of infield coach Bobby Dickerson.
"I wouldn't make too much of it," manager Joe Girardi urged.
According to Girardi, Castellanos simply enjoys taking ground balls at third base in addition to getting pre-game work in the corner outfield spots.
"It's just an interesting way he prepares," Girardi said.
Castellanos played regularly at third for the Detroit Tigers from 2015 to 2017. He moved to the outfield in 2018 and hasn't returned to third since.
Girardi said there are "no plans" to play Castellanos at third. He is expected to get some time in left field, some time in right field (when Bryce Harper is the DH) and some time at DH.
Nonetheless, Castellanos' work at third base is interesting because that position still seems unsettled 16 days before opening day. Alec Bohm does not appear to have the job locked down. In fact, there is credible buzz that he could be used in a trade. Newcomer Johan Camargo has plenty of big-league experience at the position and has swung the bat well so far in camp.
Maybe Castellanos is indeed just taking balls at third for the exercise of it all.
But maybe he's being evaluated as a depth piece at an unsettled position.
"I wouldn't make too much of it," Girardi said. "But he's a guy that's always trying to learn and get better. You never know what's going to happen in this game. You just don't. And guys that are flexible really help a team out.
"I'll obviously always keep an eye on that just in case you ever get in a pinch. It happened with me with (outfielder) Vernon Wells in a (Yankees) game. I had to put him at third base in the ninth inning of a game in Colorado. The first ball was hit to him and he made the play. He would do it on days he wasn't playing and he looked OK, so I said, 'If I ever have an emergency.' You always keep your eye on things like that."
HERRERA OUT FOR OPENER
Center fielder Odubel Herrera will not be ready for opening day, Girardi acknowledged. An MRI showed a mild right oblique strain. Recovery could be four to six weeks.
Matt Vierling and Adam Haseley are the top candidates in camp to play center field.
Kyle Schwarber lined out to second base and struck out twice in three at-bats in his Phillies spring debut Wednesday.
"I thought his at-bats were good," Girardi said. "He had some long at-bats."
The Phillies beat the Blue Jays, 8-7.
Girardi said Schwarber would play left field Friday. He added that he anticipates Schwarber getting the bulk of the playing time in left field this season.
Castellanos could debut as the DH Monday.
Aaron Nola is scheduled to pitch against the Pirates in Bradenton (weather permitting) on Thursday. Kyle Gibson will start Friday against the Yankees in Clearwater.
Zach Eflin will make his first start Saturday against the Tigers in Lakeland.
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