FORT MYERS, Fla. — After finishing his workout at JetBlue Park Thursday morning, new Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo was asked how he thought the training session went.
“Good, good,” he said in Spanish.
Then the Cuban star was asked whether he was eager to play in a game.
“Um hmm,” he said.
While it’s uncertain when or where that opportunity will come, all signs point toward it coming very soon.
In his second workout under the watchful eyes of Red Sox staff members, Castillo, 27, worked on all phases of the game, starting at 8:40 a.m. in the batting cage and finishing almost two hours later on a nearby practice field.
Castillo has obtained a work visa, making him eligible to play in games. And the Red Sox’ entry in the Gulf Coast League has qualified for the playoffs. The postseason schedule starts with a one-game semifinal Friday, then continues with the winner in a best-of-three final that starts Saturday.
But until Castillo takes to the field for competition, he remains focused on daily workouts. Laz Gutierrez, the Red Sox’ player development programs coordinator, directed most of Thursday’s workout and offered instruction and tips in Spanish.
If, as Gutierrez said, the plan for Castillo’s individual training is geared toward “just getting him going, ramping him up,” then the Red Sox’ idea of “ramping him up” is more swift then gradual. Thursday’s workout represented a sharp increase in intensity and activity over Wednesday.
After about 20 minutes in the batting cages, Castillo, Gutierrez & Co. moved to a practice field. Castillo went through a series of dynamic stretches and some light running with high knees. Then Castillo and Gutierrez long-tossed for about 10 minutes.
The next segments of the workout gave glimpses of Castillo as a fielder, hitter, and base runner.
Gutierrez hit a couple of dozen shallow fly balls to Castillo, and after a few sips of water and a wipe of his sunglasses, Castillo headed into an on-field cage and took about 20 swings, sending a few balls close to the right-field fence.
When asked if he wanted to finish with one or two more rounds, Castillo opted for two more. That fit with Gutierrez’s description of Castillo as a hard-working, humble player.
For the small gathering of fans, the highlight of the workout came when Castillo ran the bases and showed some of his coveted speed. At a July showcase in Miami attended by 28 of the 30 major league teams, Castillo ran a 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds. On the JetBlue field Thursday, he pantomimed a swing, then took off down the line a few times. He also rounded second a few times, with the Red Sox staff on hand shouting, “That a way.”
With a longer, more varied workout on Thursday, Castillo appeared to take a more serious approach. While he still joked around, he moved quickly from stretching to long-tossing to fielding to hitting to running. There was not a lot of standing around or wasted energy, with morning temperatures in the mid-80s.
When he finished on the field, an autograph seeker asked in Spanish for a moment of his time, and Castillo obliged, signing for the small crowd for 10 minutes under the ever-present supervision of Gutierrez.
There was talk among the crowd of autograph seekers about how valuable Castillo’s signature will be. It seemed the more they saw, the more it appreciated.Follow Shira Springer on Twitter @shiraspringer.