Jason Castro working on his approach at plate
It was a good offseason for Astros' catcher Jason Castro.
Not only did he get married, but he adjusted his swing and is feeling really good at the plate this spring. He went 2-for-2 in Tuesday’s 9-4 win over the Detroit Tigers in Kissimmee. He hit a two-run homerun, his second bomb in as many games.
“I’ve been getting some good pitches early on,” Castro said. “It’s early in spring and pitchers are working on stuff. I’m just trying to see the ball and stay aggressive and I’ve been able to put some pretty good swings on the ball.”
The 25-year-old said he really hit his workouts hard in the offseason, but more importantly, he tweaked his swing in ways that allow him to drive the ball more, especially the other way.
“I changed the way my bat comes through the zone a little bit (not in terms in timing) but in terms of directionality,” Castro said. “I was a little flat through the zone last year. This year I have a little bit more tilt in my shoulders and really working on having a high finish, and that really helps me stay through the ball and drive the ball the other way."
Castro said these changes are a work in progress, but he is happy with the results so far.
“As soon as I made the change, I could see a tremendous difference in the way the ball was coming off my bat, so it really persuaded me to kind of stick with it,” Castro said. “The more natural it started feeling throughout the offseason, the more evident I could tell this was the right change and something that could definitely help me.”
Although Castro noticed things about his swing he needed to fix, he wasn’t sure how to fix them. Enter Astros hitting coach John Mallee.
“He had watched tape of me last year and had the same ideas, so we talked,” Castro said. “I worked in the cage a little bit and had been doing some drills, and for him to pick up on some of those cues that helped me…and throughout the season, I’m sure with anybody there are lulls. That’s what’s big for us –- to have him and a set of eyes to help us through that and get us out of those as quickly as possible.”
Castro is also the anchor behind the plate, a role that’s especially important with so many new pitchers at camp and with the club’s historic move to the American League West loaded with potent offenses. He caught left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard's Astros debut on Tuesday. Bedard is trying to win a spot on the back end of the starting rotation.
“It went well,” Castro said. “I only caught him one time leading up to games, and he’s got a lot of different things he can do. So, right now it’s just about me learning the way he likes to work and what pitches he likes to go to in certain situations.
“He’s got a lot of tools,” Castro continued. “He’s the kind of guy who’s going to move the ball – cut it, sink it and keep guys off balance – and he was able to do that pretty much today and hopefully he can keep building on that.”