Reds’ Castillo pleased with rehab start with Dragons

Right-hander strikes out four in 2 1/3 innings of work

Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo counted his first rehab assignment a success after striking out four in 2 1/3 innings with the Dayton Dragons on Sunday at DayAir Ballpark.

“Thanks to God, I feel pretty good,” Castillo said through translator Jose Nieves, the former Dragons manager who now works for the Reds. “My arm feels pretty good and strong and hopefully it’s going to continue like that for the rest of the outings.”

Castillo started the season on the injured list for the first time in his major-league career with shoulder inflammation. He said he might make as many as two more rehab starts before rejoining the Reds’ rotation.

“Having that issue it was hard for me to throw, but after doing my rehab that inflammation is going away and that is what I feel happy about,” Castillo said. “It’s a process, but tonight if I had to be opening up in the big leagues, I wouldn’t be ready to throw even though I feel good.”

Castillo threw 35 pitches during a live batting practice session on Tuesday in San Diego. He said his focus Sunday was more about how he felt than how each of his pitches performed. His fastball topped out at 96 mph, sat in the 95-96 range and when he missed the strike zone it was usually high. His fastball averaged 97.1 last season.

Castillo’s changeup generally had less movement than last year according to Trackman metrics. But he did strike out one hitter with 41 inches of vertical break. Last year he averaged 34 inches.

Castillo struck out the side in the first inning around a walk. He allowed a leadoff single through the right side to start the second inning. But shortstop Elly De La Cruz turned a double play and Castillo got his final strikeout to end the inning.

In the third inning, Castillo walked the bases loaded around a sacrifice bunt and left the game. Jake Gozzo relieved and walked in a run, which was charged to Castillo, before striking out two to end the inning.

“I wasn’t so pleased with the command or locations of my pitches and the movement, but it’s the first outing and I feel like it went well,” Castillo said. “It’s always good to pitch in front of fans and being on the mound is so good. It’s going to keep me keep pushing because I feel really good.”

The Reds entered Sunday with the worst record in the majors at 2-13 and on an 11-game losing streak. Castillo is one of several injured Reds.

“It doesn’t matter where you are and what level you are, the organization that you play for is like your family,” Castillo said. “Something’s going on and you feel deeply hurt. Something happened and you feel handcuffed, because you have the need to go there and help them.”

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