Castellanos looks forward to seeing Reds fans in the stands in his second season

Nick Castellanos interview (Feb. 26, 2021)

Right fielder struggled at plate in his first season in Cincinnati

Nick Castellanos thinks his numbers would have been right on par with his career averages if the 2020 season had lasted 162 games. It’s easy for a veteran to ignore a short slump in a normal season but much more difficult to do so when every game is magnified in a 60-game season.

Castellanos hit .321 with a .356 on-base percentage in 2019, baseball’s last full season, and hit .225 with a .298 on-base percentage in his first season with the Cincinnati Reds. He was one reason the Reds ranked last in the National League with a .212 average and 13th out of 15 teams in on-base percentage (.312).

“Last year, I will say just the difference of all of the regimens and protocols,” Castellanos said, “and not having any fans and not being able to get to the park when I wanted to or leave when I wanted to or kind of just be in charge of my own day, that was an adjustment that I was figuring out how to deal with last year. Coming into it (this season), I’m a little bit more prepared, having done it already.”

This season, Castellanos wants to just ignore all the distractions that come with the protocols.

“Just do the best you can to just pretend all the other crap doesn’t exist,” Castellanos said, “and then really only focus and care about (the game) between the white lines.”

Explore» FEATURE: India says he's ready for big leagues

When Castellanos plays at Great American Ball Park this season, he will also experience Reds fans for the first time. Only fan cutouts watched the games last season. This season, the Reds can fill the stadium to 30 percent capacity, and that means as many as 12,695 fans could attend games.

“Everybody’s like, ‘How do I like Cincinnati?’” Castellanos said, “and I really don’t know. I can’t give you an honest answer. I haven’t felt the city yet. I don’t know what the city feels like. I don’t know what it sounds like. Not yet anyway. I’m looking forward to that.”

Castellanos started 57 games in right field last season and likely will be there again when the Reds open the 2021 season on April 1 against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park. He’s off to a slow start this spring. He’s hitless in eight at-bats with four strikeouts in three games.

Castellanos’ contract allowed him to opt out after the 2020 season if he chose to do so, but he said it wasn’t the right time. He said it was an easy decision to stay with the Reds.

Explore» ASK HAL: Turn back the clock and play real baseball

“There’s just so much uncertainty and not just in Major League Baseball but the world,” he said. “I didn’t think last year would have been an appropriate time to do so. Other than that, I still think that we have a good team and a good thing going on here with a chance to do some damage in this division.”

Castellanos went 3-for-10 in the two National League Division Series games against the Atlanta Braves. It was his first taste of the postseason since 2014, his first full season in the big leagues when he appeared in three Division Series games for the Detroit Tigers.

The late-season run the Reds made to finish 31-29 and reach the postseason helped make Castellanos optimistic about the 2021 season.

“We’ve got dudes,” he said. “We started getting in a vibe toward the end of last year.”

Nick Castellanos, of the Reds, rounds the bases after a home run against the Indians on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
Nick Castellanos, of the Reds, rounds the bases after a home run against the Indians on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski