Nick Castellanos has shined this postseason, reaching the level that “Mr. October” has achieved in the past.
The Phillies hitter hit five home runs in a three-game stretch, between the end of the National League Division Series against the Braves and the start of the Championship Series against the D-backs, matching Reggie Jackson’s feat in the 1977 World Series. . One after the other.
Overall, the Philadelphia right fielder has posted an OPS of 1.010 so far in the 2023 playoffs, which is one of the main reasons why his team is one step away from advancing to its second straight. World Series.
However, that success this time has been progressive for Castellanos, who is in the midst of the fourth postseason of his career. It took him a while to feel comfortable in this scenario, trying to focus on the factors of the game and block out all the noise that comes with playing in October.
“I think the most difficult thing of all is to be happy, no matter what happens,” said the 31-year-old gunner. “Because when it’s over, it’s over. It’s about relaxing and simplifying the game in the best way possible, focusing on baseball. For example, I don’t have to do press conferences like this in the regular season; It’s one of those things that distracts you. You just have to pay attention to baseball, really. ”
But again, that trip to the postseason for Castellanos started a few years ago. Nine, to be exact, with a Tigers team armed to win it all. That 2014 version of Detroit was eliminated in the ALDS against the Orioles and Castellanos could only have one hit in 12 at-bats.
However, it was the experience that stayed with him, especially a conversation he had with Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera, who was at the top of the game at the time, who was the reigning AL Most Valuable Player at the time.
“Look, this game is tough for everybody,” he said. “I think you have to remember that, as Miggy told me before: ‘We need you. It could be your turn with two outs in Game 7 of the World Series, or it could be my turn. Your turn is just as important. We need you to be at peace, to be yourself in those moments.’”
You should know how much those words can do in anyone’s career. An MVP told a 22-year-old young man, in his first full season in the Majors, in the postseason: “Your turn is as important as mine.”
Nick Castellanos ended up spending seven years in Detroit, where he learned a lot from the veterans he shared the roster with during his career. But that was his only playoff experience with the Tigers. He was with the Reds in the 2020 postseason and the last two years with the Phillies.
Much has happened since then in the career of Castellanos, who is now one of the veterans in the Phillies clubhouse, trying to pass on Cabrera’s words to the youngest members of his team.
Nine years later, with his team one step away from the World Series, Castellanos still remembers that moment with Cabrera, while still trying to focus on one thing during the most pressured moments of the year: Play baseball.