Willi Castro’s versatility allows Twins to “make whatever decisions we want”

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NEW YORK — Royce Lewis’ injured quadriceps turned him into the Twins’ starting third baseman. Carlos Correa’s strained intercostal turned him into their shortstop. Byron Buxton’s sore knee then made him their center fielder.

Minnesota Twins’ Willi Castro before a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Monday, May 20, 2024, in Washington. (Nick Wass / Associated Press)

And now, finally, Edouard Julien’s demotion has led to Willi Castro becoming the Twins’ second baseman. Castro, the only player to appear in every single game this season, has also become one of the most valuable because of his versatility.

“I feel really happy because being in this organization, it’s a winning team and they’re going to use me wherever they need me, and I will get the job done,” Castro said. “They believe in me a lot, and I just try to do my best every time I play those positions.”

When the Twins were deciding how to make room on the roster for Lewis upon his return, knowing they could slot Castro in at second base helped allow the Twins make the choice they felt was best.

Castro said manager Rocco Baldelli called him into the office on Tuesday to tell him that he would be focusing more at second base for the time being, though he started in left field on Wednesday.

“Almost every decision that we have to make on the position player side — I don’t even mean roster moves — I mean everything that we do is affected, and the number of options that we have are almost compounded based on the presence of Willi Castro,” Baldelli said. “He allows us to almost make whatever decisions we want to make. Daily decisions, roster decisions, every kind of decision.”

That’s because he can handle so many different positions capably. Castro came up as a shortstop but credited Detroit manager A.J. Hinch with being the one who “got me to being the player that I am today.”

And that, now, is an everyday player.

“Obviously, as a player, you want to be in the lineup every day,” Castro said. “It’s a privilege for me to be in there and help this team win.”

Lewis honors idol

As he dug in before his first plate appearance on Tuesday in New York, Royce Lewis wanted to pay homage to his favorite baseball player growing up. The third baseman held out his right arm out straight behind him, just like Yankees hall of famer Derek Jeter used to do.

His tribute didn’t work out quite as he envisioned — home plate umpire Chris Segal thought Lewis was trying to call time out and granted it to him, something they wound up laughing about after the fact, Lewis said.

“I just wanted to imitate him and mimic him because he was my idol,” Lewis said of Jeter. “To be here for the first time, I thought it was just a good ode to such a gentleman and a player that I very well respected.”


Pablo López will take the ball for the final game of the series against the Yankees on Thursday, opposed by Marcus Stroman. Stroman threw six scoreless innings against the Twins, giving up just two hits, in a Yankees’ win last month.

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