Wilson to mend fences with Castillo
Bucs shortstop wants to clear the air with his second baseman
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Shortstop Jack Wilson bounced around the clubhouse on Tuesday, greeting each player individually with a handshake or a hug. He was, by all accounts, a man happy to be reunited with his team.
And though there was an issue brewing beneath the surface, Wilson was quick to state he was also looking forward to diffusing the situation as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
"I think basically what I'm going to do is talk to [Jose Castillo], and go out there and really be more vocal when we work together," Wilson said. "I'm not really a vocal person, but I think that's going to have to be a step I take to have him understand that nothing that I said was personal."
Wilson's message for Castillo: "'I think you're going to be a great player, I just want you to do it now, not three years from now.'"
Less than a month ago, Wilson blasted the work ethic of Castillo, his second baseman, during a television interview. Among other things, he remarked during the interview that if Castillo didn't intensify his work ethic, Wilson might be happier with Freddy Sanchez sharing the middle with him.
On Tuesday, though, it was all about mending fences. Wilson and Castillo met privately to clear the air, and although neither commented afterward, Wilson was optimistic going in.
"I definitely want him to understand where I was coming from," Wilson said. "[It was] nothing against him as a person, I just want him to come out and work hard with me.
"I'm going to be out there busting my butt, and I want him to be right there with us, because this is the year we can do some special things."
Castillo came under fire by Wilson after the 25-year-old finished the season with a career-high 18 errors at second base and a career-low .253 batting average. Wilson said Friday that he had tried everything to inspire the young player, and that the television interview was a last-ditch effort to reach out to the other half of the double play duo.
Castillo was in and out of the clubhouse at McKechnie Field by the time Wilson arrived, but appeared indifferent when asked about the recent scrutiny.
"I don't care about [Wilson's comments]," Castillo said through a translator, bullpen catcher Heberto Andrade. "I'm not concerned about it. I came here to work hard with my glove, my defense and offense, to help the team win."
Castillo, who appeared as if he'd dropped nearly 20 pounds since last season as a result of "working hard to get in shape," also had a one-on-one chat with manager Jim Tracy prior to heading to an early workout at Pirate City. During the meeting, Castillo said, Tracy told him not to worry about words, but instead to focus on the game.
It now appears to all be water beneath the bridge. The powwow, if anything, put Wilson and Castillo back on the same page. Wilson was eager to get past the talk and prepare to show opponents what he thinks was once something pretty special.
"We need to reclaim what we were a couple of years ago," he said. "I thought we were the best double play combination in Major League Baseball, and I think we let that go.
"It's very important that people understand that it's a duo. We're important in the middle of the field. It's not just, 'OK, Jose, you need to do this,' it's, 'We need to do this together.' So I'm looking forward to it, I really am."
Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.