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Castillo's long-awaited return cut short by injury

@AJCassavell
August 9, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Jose Castillo's long awaited return to the mound ended quickly -- and somewhat cruelly -- on Thursday night. The Padres' left-hander was activated from the injured list, only to exit his first outing with an injury to the middle finger on his throwing hand in the top

SAN DIEGO -- Jose Castillo's long awaited return to the mound ended quickly -- and somewhat cruelly -- on Thursday night.

The Padres' left-hander was activated from the injured list, only to exit his first outing with an injury to the middle finger on his throwing hand in the top of the seventh inning. Castillo hit a batter and walked a batter before striking out two Rockies in the Padres’ 9-3 win.

After he struck out Daniel Murphy, Castillo shook his left hand in apparent discomfort. Manager Andy Green hopped off the top step of the dugout with a team athletic trainer. After a quick evaluation, Castillo's night was done.

“It’s relating to his middle finger,” Green said. “Don't know for sure what the extent or severity of it is yet. It's possibly a tendon issue with his middle finger. It's not what you want to see. When I went out there I was hoping for a broken nail or a blister or something along those lines. But it is with his hand, not with his elbow. We'll know more in time.”

That last clarification is an important one. Castillo had missed the last five months with a flexor strain in his left elbow. His first attempt at a rehab was cut short in mid-June when he experienced tightness. But he’s shown no symptoms since he restarted his rehab stint in July.

In 37 appearances last season, Castillo posted a 3.29 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings, coming into Thursday. With a dominant fastball/slider combo, Castillo quickly became one of the Padres' most reliable left-on-left options.

Without Castillo on board this year, the Padres struggled to find reliable left-handers in their 'pen. Seven Padres lefties have pitched in relief, and they've combined for a 5.56 ERA.

“Really frustrating for him,” Green said. “He was working incredibly hard, and we were excited to have him back.”

In a corresponding move, Adrian Morejon was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left-shoulder impingement. In five appearances since his mid-July promotion, the 20-year-old left-hander has posted a 10.13 ERA.

The Padres are optimistic that Morejon, the team’s No. 7 prospect, won’t be out very long. He sustained the injury on one of the last pitches he threw in Seattle on Tuesday. It’s the same one he dealt with in the Minors earlier this season.

“We don’t think the severity of it is too high,” Green said. “You never really know with these things until they start throwing again.”

With Castillo, the Padres are hoping for the same thing.

Cordero runs the bases

Franchy Cordero ran the bases at Petco Park on Thursday, as he continues his recovery from the left quad injury that sidelined him for much of the season.

It's a noteworthy hurdle, but Cordero remains a long way from a return. Green noted that the best case scenario would probably see Cordero back by mid-September.

Cordero initially landed on the injured list in April with a right elbow sprain. While on a rehab assignment he suffered the quad injury in early June.

The Padres remain optimistic that Cordero can be a crucial part of their long-term outfield, and last week's trade that sent Franmil Reyes to Cleveland would presumably clear some playing time for him.

Padres honor El Paso victims

Ahead of their first home game since Saturday's tragic shooting in El Paso, the Padres wore the hats of their Triple-A El Paso affiliate during batting practice. Afterward, they signed the caps for the Chihuahuas to auction, with the proceeds benefiting the El Paso Victims Relief Fund.

"Most of us here have been there and spent time in El Paso, and we really enjoyed and loved our fanbase," said Hunter Renfroe, who won the 2016 Pacific Coast League MVP Award with the Chihuahuas. "The community of El Paso is a small and tight-knit group to me. It's really important to the people in this room to really give back to that community."

The Padres also donated $30,000 to the Vitcims Relief Fund, and they held a moment of silence before Thursday's game against the Rockies.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.