Starlin Castro placed on administrative leave

July 16th, 2021

WASHINGTON -- Nationals starting third baseman was placed on administrative leave under the Joint MLB-MLBPA Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy on Friday. The initial period of administrative leave may last up to seven days, barring an extension, per the policy.

“What I can tell you about myself and this organization, as you know, we do not tolerate any kind of domestic abuse,” said Nationals manager Dave Martinez, who was made aware on Thursday night. “Speaking for myself, I think it’s awful.”

Castro, 31, was placed on the restricted list on June 16 to attend to a family issue, during which Martinez offered him “100%” support. He returned to the lineup two days later. Martinez said Castro’s June absence was unrelated.

“This is a totally different situation,” Martinez said. “If I would have known about this a month ago, we would have had a different conversation, I can tell you that.” 

The Nationals signed Castro to a two-year contract in January 2020. Martinez previously worked with Castro on the Cubs when he was hired as a member of the Chicago coaching staff before the ’15 season.

Martinez was asked Friday if he had previous concerns about an accusation of sexual assault against Castro in 2012. Charges were not filed. 

“No. No,” Martinez said. “I’ve had Starlin here, he’s a good teammate, a good person to be around. Yesterday, when I was told, I was shocked. I really was. But then again, like I said, we don’t tolerate that kind of behavior. I’m going to support MLB. And not only in this game, but in anything, in life, domestic violence is awful. There’s no place for it, as far as I’m concerned.” 

Martinez reiterated that message when he spoke to the team on Friday afternoon after reporting to Nationals Park following the All-Star break. 

“[Domestic violence] has to be addressed all over our country, all over the world,” Martinez said. “This happens and, like I said, it’s awful. It shouldn’t happen. But I’m glad MLB is really putting its foot down to stop it.”

When asked if he would welcome Castro back to the Nationals following the administrative leave and investigation, Martinez was focused on the present situation.

“When that process is done, that’ll be another conversation,” Martinez said. “But for right now, like I said, until he goes through that process, I really have nothing to say to him or anybody about it.”

Castro has started 84 games at third base and is hitting .283/.333/.375 this season. For their series opener against the Padres on Friday, the Nationals filled their vacancy at third base with veteran utility infielder Jordy Mercer, who was reinstated from the 10-day injured list (right quad strain) that afternoon. 

Josh Harrison and Alcides Escobar also are options on the active roster to play the hot corner. At the Minor League level, Carter Kieboom, who platooned in the starting third-base role last season, is rehabbing from a left knee injury. 

“As I talked to the team today, I told them obviously it’s disturbing news, but we can’t let this deter what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to accomplish, and that’s to win another championship,” Martinez said. “We need to stay positive. ... The biggest thing is to keep our heads up and keep pushing forward.”