Nick Castellanos is no longer trying to be someone he doesn't want to be – NBC Sports Philadelphia


MIAMI – Slowly but surely, Nick Castellanos is feeling like himself again. He may already be there, with the results finally becoming visible over the past two weeks.

Castellanos launched a solo shot to right-center field off left-hander Trevor Rogers on the first pitch he saw in his hometown Friday night, leading to an eventual 8-2 Phillies victory.

He reacted the same way he did last Monday in Anaheim, when he arrived at nearly the same spot and raised his finger to right-center in celebration.

When he's going well, Castellanos' success and swag are like lightning bolts in the Phillies' dugout. It's not hard to see the positive energy this creates.

And he is at his best when hitting the ball with authority in the opposite direction. That has always been Castellanos' calling card.

Many times when a player falls, there is no single reason or smoking gun. Castellanos' situation seems a little different in April. He became obsessed with being in the strike zone and practicing at specific spots. He was overcome with his powers. He wasn't Nick Castellanos, who slugged his way to the major leagues, a $100 million contract and two All-Star teams.

Regarding who he was trying to become at age 32, he said, “Someone who was more patient and selective.” Attacking the baseball stopped because my brain was working too fast.

“I just feel like my swings are more loose, free. Not so concerned about chasing or being so hard on myself like trying to make a plan. Just go out there with no thoughts and just swing. Do it. See the ball, hit the ball.”

The primary reason the Phillies unraveled in the 2023 NLCS was the continued expansion of the strike zone. The Diamondbacks realized that so many Phillies hitters were trying too aggressively to punch their way into the World Series that they stopped getting into the strike zone. The Phillies could not adjust, whiffing and putting pitchers' pitches into play weakly.

Castellanos wasn't the only player to overextend a lot in the Arizona series, but he stayed ahead more than other players because A) he's always aggressive, and B) he was often attacked with balls breaking low and away in the same way. is done.

“Throughout my career, I never had a plan, I never looked for a pitch,” he said. “Basically, the game is glorified batting practice. That's where I always perform my best. I think I really tried to be something I wasn't at the beginning of the season and improved myself a little bit. But I Getting out of this.”

Castellanos is 8 for 23 with three doubles, one homer, four RBI and two walks during a six-game hitting streak. Over the past 14 days, he's hit .265/.333/.510. It's reasonable that Castellanos can put together that type of slash-line over the remainder of the season, and if he does, it would be a significant development for the Phillies. That will be welcomed after he hit a combined .214/.259/.376 in his final 75 games last season and first 30 games this season.

The Phillies have already built a nice cushion at 27-12, but could use Castellanos hot streak especially right now, with Trey Turner out at least another month due to a hamstring strain and Kyle Schwarber out with back pain. Reason can be sidelined day to day.

“It's not like a moment,” Castellanos said when asked when he decided his old approach would work better. “It's like snow, it just melts.”


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