Non-roster invite Harold Castro making a case for Rockies' opening day roster

Mar. 18—SURPRISE, Ariz. — Harold Castro was told very early on in his career that if he wants to be a major leaguer, he needs to be versatile.

It's very safe to say he took that to heart.

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Castro, a non-roster invite after being non-tendered by the Tigers last winter, can play every position but catcher and pitcher (although he does have nine relief appearances). And that versatility is just what could land him a spot on the Rockies' opening day roster. With Brendan Rodgers and Sean Bouchard both likely done for the season and Randal Grichuk out for Opening Day, the Rockies need someone like Castro who can play multiple roles.

"He's very comfortable anywhere we put him," manager Bud Black said. "He looks to us like a very confident, versatile contributor to a major league roster."

Castro, signed by the Tigers at 16 years old out of Venezuela, grew up a middle infielder and it wasn't until after his major league debut in 2018 that he started tacking on positions. He went to the Venezuelan Winter League, where they played him just about everywhere. The Tigers took notice and started having him do the same.

Second is the most natural spot for him, as is typically the case for the position at which a player started his career. Right and left field are the positions he's played the least, but the Rockies have given him some reps there this spring. He carries five gloves with him — first, second/shortstop, third and two outfield options — so he's always prepared no matter where they put him.

"I had to play everywhere to make room for myself," Castro said. "I'm very excited to do that job, that I have that versatility."

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Castro is no slouch at the plate either, he has a .284 batting average in 351 major league games with the Tigers and is hitting .414 in 11 spring training games so far. He's not a power hitter — he has only 15 career home runs — but can make solid contact. The large gaps at Coors Field could play in his favor.

The one fallback to Castros' game is his on-base percentage, which throughout his career, has only been a tick or two higher than his batting average. He doesn't typically take walks, and hasn't yet this spring, but he knows he needs to be more patient and see more pitches.

"When I swing, most of the time the ball goes into the stadium," he said. "It's a little tough for me, but that's the mentality. I have to work a little bit on staying longer in ABs."

Freeland, Bard and team USA advance in WBC

Daniel Bard had no control and turned in a disastrous performance, including sending two wild pitches and hitting Jose Altuve, who is now feared to have a broken thumb that will sideline him for at least a month. Bard excited before recording an out and was credited for four earned runs as the U.S. fell behind to Venezuela in the fifth inning.

But Trea Turner changed the story of the day, hitting a grand slam in the eighth inning to give the U.S. back the lead. They defeated Venezuela 9-7 and will play Cuba on Sunday at 5 p.m. in the semifinals.

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Trejo has started at shortstop in every game of the tournament for Mexico.