Rusney Castillo will make his minor league debut for the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon in a Gulf Coast League playoff game at the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers, Fla.
Castillo will play three innings in Game 2 of the GCL championship series against the Yankees. The game starts at noon.
The Cuban outfielder, signed to a $72.5 million deal this month, went through his third day of workouts on Friday.
The GCL Red Sox start the best-of-three championship series on Saturday against the Yankees in Tampa but the Red Sox prefer Castillo play at their facility at first.
Laz Gutierrez, the Sox’ player development programs coordinator, has been overseeing Castillo’s workouts. He feels the 27-year-old is ready to start playing.
Castillo went through a 90-minute outdoor workout on Friday. He had done his weight work earlier in the morning, then took about 20 minutes of swings in the batting cage.
With temperatures in the 90s and high humidity, he took some fly balls in center field at Field 3 at Fenway South.
Castillo looked good on balls he had to come in on, and made one very nice over-the-shoulder catch on a ball that sailed over his head. He took a couple of long routes to balls that could have been more economical.
He didn’t flash a great arm, as the scouting reports indicated, but an average one.
It also was hard to see his speed because there was no running except on the fly balls.
Impressive, however, was his swing.
Castillo has a very basic righthanded stance with a compact swing and finish. He didn’t hit any out of the ballpark in the three rounds of batting practice thrown by Gutierrez, but did hit line drives to all fields.
These workouts give a general sense of where a player is condition-wise, but whether Castillo’s timing is there will be reflected in how he performs against live pitching.
There is likely to be some rust, as he hasn’t played in an organized professional game in about 1½ years since his defection from Cuba.
“For a kid who just came over here and performed in these workouts like he has, he’s doing very well,” said Gutierrez. “He’s really worked hard. He really wants to help the organization and the Red Sox.”
Castillo has not been allowed to speak to reporters since a brief press conference at Fenway Park on Sunday.
For full-season minor league teams, the regular season ends on Monday. But the Red Sox will have several affiliates in the postseason and Castillo could see time with those teams before an expected promotion to the majors sometime in September.
The Red Sox also could get Castillo at-bats in the Arizona Fall League and in winter ball.
Manager John Farrell isn’t sure if he’ll get to see Castillo play before he gets to the majors.
“I’ll probably wait to see what his game activity is going to look like,” Farrell said. “But I think we’re all looking forward to seeing him on the field, no doubt.”
Rookie shortstop Xander Bogaerts rejoined the Red Sox in St. Petersburg, Fla. He missed the three-game series in Toronto recovering from a concussion suffered Aug. 22 when he was hit in the helmet by a pitch from Felix Hernandez of the Mariners.
Bogaerts is eligible to come off the seven-day concussion disabled list on Saturday and Farrell expects him to return to the lineup.
“I feel fine now,” Bogaerts said.
“I didn’t really have too many symptoms. After a few days I was pretty much OK.”
Man of many talents
Yoenis Cespedes has been using a green-and-gold glove left over from his Oakland days. But on Friday he received a shipment of three gloves with red highlights. Once they are broken in, Cespedes will start using them in games.
“About a week,” he said. “They’re nice.”
The breaking-in process started Friday when Cespedes played catch with teammate Will Middlebrooks using a neon-yellow softball. Middlebrooks threw overhand but Cespedes zipped the ball back with underhand pitches that suggested he has experience in that sport.
Cespedes threw a rise ball and a changeup and had good velocity.
“He had nasty stuff,” said Middlebrooks, whose sister Lacey was an all-conference softball pitcher at Tulsa.
Cespedes then switched to a baseball and was throwing knuckleballs and sliders to bullpen catcher Mani Martinez. Cespedes shook his head when asked if he had any pitching experience, but also winked and smiled.
Rosters expand on Monday and Farrell said the Sox would add one or two players that day with more later . . . Allen Craig has four games of major league experience at third base but none since 2011, and Farrell said the Red Sox have no plans to try him there. “We haven’t thought of that, no,” Farrell said . . . Lefthander Edwin Escobar, who made his major league debut on Wednesday against Toronto, was optioned to Triple A Pawtucket to make room for Anthony Ranaudo, who started on Friday. Ranaudo is the first Red Sox rookie to win his first three games since Clay Buchholz in 2007 . . . Carlos Rivero made his major league debut in the ninth inning, drawing a walk. He is expected to be optioned to make room on the roster for Bogaerts.