The Tigers, whose surprising start to the season fizzled thanks in part to injuries, are being tested for depth as their season winds down. Both shortstop Willi Castro and infielder Harold Castro left early during Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Royals, forcing catcher Austin Romine to make his first appearance at first base in three years.
Willi Castro, whose second-half tear has put him into the conversation for American League Rookie of the Year Award votes, left in the second inning with right shoulder soreness. He looked to be wincing on a swing, convinced head athletic trainer Doug Teter and interim manager Lloyd McClendon to let him stay in the game, then was lifted for a pinch-runner following his RBI single.
Willi Castro will be placed on the injured list so the Tigers will be able to call up an extra body, likely Sergio Alcántara, from the taxi squad for Sunday. Willi Castro finished the 2020 season with a .349 average, six home runs, 24 RBIs and a .932 OPS in 36 games. He entered Saturday with 1.4 wins above replacement according to Fangraphs, just ahead of White Sox slugging center fielder Luis Robert.
Two innings later, Harold Castro, who just returned a week ago from the injured list with a right hamstring strain, was noticeably wincing on a swing before dropping to his knees on a strikeout. Though Castro’s hamstring was still slowing him since his return, he left with low back tightness. The Tigers are hopeful he'll be able to return for Sunday's series finale against the Royals.
That prompted another series of moves. Dixon moved from first to second base, where he played just three games last season. Romine moved to first base for the first time since Aug. 27, 2017, with the Yankees. Backup catcher Eric Haase entered the game behind the plate.