Cash gives Castillo debut 'opener' assignment

August 19th, 2018

BOSTON -- made his "opener" debut in Sunday's 2-0 win over the Red Sox, holding Boston scoreless on one hit in 1 2/3 innings.

Kevin Cash told reporters prior to the game that Castillo had been used in said capacity while at Triple-A Durham, so the role wasn't foreign to the right-hander. The Rays' manager said he felt like using Castillo as the opener would put Castillo in a spot to succeed.

"I look at Diego Castillo, hopefully turning into that role where he's eventually coming [into the games] in seventh-, eighth- and ninth-inning situations," Cash said. "I think you can say the same things for . We're not quite there yet, but you look at how [becoming an opener has] kind of helped Ryne turn his big league career around. Maybe [Sunday's assignment] is going to help jump-start Diego's a little bit."

For most of the season, the bulk of the opener assignments have been handled by Stanek and . Castillo marked the 16th different starter for the Rays this season, and the 34th time Cash has employed the opener tactic.

Cash allowed that "it's more beneficial to have righty-lefty neutral guys" in the opener role. But he added that he thought having several opener candidates on the staff would add to its overall versatility.

"What we've learned is you can't pencil in two guys to do it all the time," Cash said. "They're not always going to be available. You might need them the night before [to pitch in relief].

"I know in Spring Training, we'll probably approach it with a lot of guys. Get them acclimated to opening games, even in Spring Training [games], and then kind of make some decisions based on the comfort and how it works for the alignment."