Posted on June 1, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine

Baltimore Orioles Welington Castillo

Image via sportingnews.com

Things are about to go from bad to worse for the Baltimore Orioles. Amidst their biggest slump of the season, they have now lost catcher Welington Castillo to the DL. The Orioles placed Castillo on the 10-day DL Wednesday with what is being called a groin contusion. The move comes one day after Castillo was hit below the belt by a ball that deflected off the bat of Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorious.

Castillo was able to finish the game, which was in the top of the 9th inning at the time of the incident. But he was taken to the hospital after the game. Baltimore has called up Francisco Pena to take Castillo’s place on the roster and serve as the backup catcher for the time being.

“Castillo spent a lot of time in the emergency room last night, postgame, with the obvious contusion, whatever you want to call it, that he had last night that everybody knows about,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said prior to Wednesday’s game against the Yankees. “He’s got a hematoma there in his groin that we’re going to monitor and see how it progresses.”

The Orioles don’t have a timeframe yet for how long Castillo will be out. But they don’t expect him to be ready to come back when he’s first eligible on June 9. Castillo spent two weeks on the DL at the start of May with tendinitis in his right shoulder. When he’s been healthy, Castillo has been one of Baltimore’s most impactful offensive players after signing with the Orioles over the winter. His .317 batting average is the highest among the team’s everyday players. Castillo also has an OPS of .805.

Caleb Joseph is set to become Baltimore’s primary catcher while Castillo is on the DL. Joseph is having the best offensive season of his career, entering Wednesday hitting .253 with an OPS of .692. He’s obviously a significant step down from Castillo offensively, but he performed well while filling in for Castillo during his last stint on the DL, and so the Orioles should be confident he can get the job done again. Joseph tends to play better with regular playing time, hitting .333 with an .881 OPS while Castillo was on the DL in May.

Pena, meanwhile, should supply adequate depth behind Joseph. He has limited big league experience, although he did go 4 for 7 with two home runs when he was with the Orioles earlier this season.

Ironically, Joseph suffered an almost identical injury to the one Castillo suffered on the same date last season, May 30. Joseph ended up missing a month of action, which may give the Orioles an idea of how long they will be without Castillo.

Of course, Baltimore’s problems extend beyond the loss of Castillo to injury for the second time in less than a month. The Orioles have lost eight of their last 10 games, dropping them to third place in the AL East and temporarily taking them out of one of the American League’s wild card spots.

Needless to say, this isn’t exactly the best time for the Orioles to lose one of their most important offensive players to injury. Baltimore’s offense is near the bottom of the American League in runs scored, and despite a solid bullpen, the team’s rotation is not good enough to win games without substantial run support on a nightly basis.

With Castillo going back to the DL, Adam Jones struggling with an ankle injury, and both Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo underperforming, the Orioles are in dire straights heading into June. How the Orioles respond to this adversity in the weeks to come will have a profound impact on whether or not they remain in the playoff hunt deep into the season.

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