Nick Castellanos gives hilariously honest assessment of his outfield defense

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Redemption thy name is Nick Castellanos. Making his World Series debut, Castellanos had a chance to break Friday’s game wide open, stepping to the plate with two outs and the bases full in the seventh inning of a 5-5 nailbiter. Castellanos squandered that opportunity, stranding teammates Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Kyle Schwarber with a morale-crushing strikeout, whiffing on an 86-mph splitter spun by former Phillies closer Hector Neris.

In a mentally taxing sport like baseball, the most successful players are rewarded for having a short memory, brushing off their failures as casually as someone scrolling through emails or pouring a bowl of morning cereal. Needless to say, Castellanos made up for his mistake and then some with a hero turn no one saw coming, making the catch of his life to rob Astros shortstop Jeremy Peña of a walk-off hit.

Castellanos is no one’s idea of a polished outfielder, ranking 48th out of 51 positional qualifiers in defensive runs saved (-9) during the regular season. Yet, time and again, Castellanos has risen to the occasion, turning heads with a similarly spectacular grab in the Phillies’ playoff opener at St. Louis. Diagnosing his defensive struggles in a post-game interview with Ken Rosenthal, Castellanos said his relative inconsistency in right field has everything to do with concentration, admitting it’s hard for him to stay focused during the regular season.

“I think that, a lot of times, I have trouble keeping attention during the regular season, every day, nine innings. But with the postseason, this kind of baseball is incredible,” said Castellanos, who went 1-for-5 with an RBI single (matching his total from the previous series) in the winning effort. “You don’t have a choice but to just be locked in, watching swings, watching the balls come off the bat, and I think that’s why I’m playing better.”

You have to admire Castellanos’ refreshing candor, only half paying attention when he’s in the outfield, plagued by a wandering mind that would rather be up to bat. Castellanos may not be God’s gift to outfielders (remember, he’s only playing there because of Harper’s elbow injury), but he came through when the Phillies needed him Friday night, stealing Game 1 in memorable fashion.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Carmen Mandato, Getty Images