Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Castellanos visits Tigers' summer camp

@beckjason
July 5, 2019

DETROIT -- Nicholas Castellanos could relate to his audience as he talked with kids from one of the Tigers’ summer baseball camps Friday afternoon. “I’m trying to be a kid for as long as possible,” he said. Castellanos was in the right place. Among those in the audience was his

DETROIT -- Nicholas Castellanos could relate to his audience as he talked with kids from one of the Tigers’ summer baseball camps Friday afternoon.

“I’m trying to be a kid for as long as possible,” he said.

Castellanos was in the right place.

Among those in the audience was his young son, Liam, whom camp director Tim Rappe joked was his favorite Castellanos after working with him for the week. When the older Castellanos took questions from the audience, his son had one of the last, but one of the best.

“How do you get through baseball without getting thirsty or throwing up or having anything to eat,” he said.

“Well, Liam,” his father said, “That’s why we pack you a water cooler.”

Also in the audience was Madi Kaczmarski, who made the trip with her mother Rachel every day from Windsor, Ontario, to this week’s camp at Detroit Country Day School in Southfield Township.

“How do you block out the noise when you’re hitting?” Madi asked, impressing the audience.

“I’ll be honest with you, Madi,” Castellanos answered. “I don’t really know, because I never heard it to begin with. Playing in the big leagues, to me, is no different than playing in this camp. I’ve always tried to hit the ball as hard as I can and score more runs than the other team.”

The first year of the Tigers’ youth camps has brought a range of kids to learn the game, from ages six to 14. The goal, according to Rappe, is making the campers better while teaching them the fundamentals to not only play the game, but enjoy it as they grow up.

“Some of the kids are using a glove they got at Christmas time for the first time. Others are hoping to make their high school team in the fall,” Rappe said. “And the artistry of running a good camp is to manage that spectrum.”

The kids are separated into teams based on age groups and skill levels, and the workouts are adjusted as such.

Kaczmarski was in the younger group, and she was also one of two girls in this week’s camp. She plays softball on a travel team, and has been a Tigers fan for longer than she can remember, which was a big reason she started playing in the first place.

“She’s been coming here to ballgames since she was 2 1/2 years old,” her mother said. “So she has always loved baseball, loved the Tigers. She’s been playing organized ball since she was three. So I saw the camp and knew there wasn’t even a question. So she’s very excited.”

Kaczmarski wears number 24 in honor of her favorite player, Miguel Cabrera. Her favorite part of the camp was going into the batting cage. Besides fielding and hitting skills, Kaczmarski learned a new pitch for softball. As for playing against the boys, she said, she was eager to compete.

“The boys want to prove that they’re the best, but I want to just try my best and get up to their level,” Kaczmarski said.

She did better than that.

“I love boys seeing how dedicated and talented the girls can be,” Rappe said. “That’s a really important side benefit. But the fact of the matter is, we throw the ball the same, we catch it the same, we hit it the same, we field it the same. And pitching it is the eighth wonder of the world. Ninety percent of the game is exactly the same.”

For more information on Tigers summer camps, click here.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.