Alexi Casilla starting at third with an opportunity to earn postseason roster spot

(Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore…)
September 27, 2014|By Eduardo A. Encina | The Baltimore Sun

TORONTO – Alexi Casilla woke up Friday morning expecting to fly home to his native Dominican Republic that night to prepare for the upcoming winter ball season. Instead, he was on a flight to Toronto to join the Orioles with an opportunity to make the team’s postseason roster.

Casilla is starting at third base and batting leadoff on Saturday, and is expected to do the same in the regular-season finale on Sunday.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter isn’t pleased with his team’s defense at third base of late – third basemen have committed five errors over the past eight games – so he is getting a look at Casilla.

He will have two games to make an impression, but the Orioles know what to expect. He played for the Orioles in 2013 and spent this season at Triple-A Norfolk, where he received high marks for his defense and speed.

Casilla has made just two career major league starts at third base, one in 2012 and another in 2010, but said he played about six or seven games last year in winter ball.

“This is a huge, huge opportunity for me,” Casilla said. “I haven’t played third base in a while, but I feel like my defense is always there.”

Casilla made an outstanding, diving catch down the third base line in the fifth inning but committed a throwing error on the play.

He hit .264/.315/.320 with one homer and 19 RBIs this season in 56 games at Triple-A Norfolk and was rehabbing a hamstring injury in Arizona, so he wasn’t with a group of players working out in Sarasota, Fla., awaiting possible call-ups.

Casilla could make the postseason roster because of his defensive flexibility – he can play second, shortstop and third -- and his speed. If he plays well, he could be selected for the playoff roster over infielder Jimmy Paredes, who has made three errors in 12 starts at third and has just two hits in his last 17 at bats, including eight strikeouts. 

Even though Casilla wasn’t on the organization’s 40-man roster by August 31, he is eligible to be added to a playoff roster because the Orioles can use Matt Wieters and Johan Santana’s 60-day disabled list spots.

Here are today’s starting lineups:

Orioles
Alexi Casilla 3B
Steve Pearce RF
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz DH
Delmon Young LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Christian Walker 1B
Caleb Joseph C
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Wei-Yin Chen LHP

Blue Jays
Jose Reyes SS
Jose Bautista RF
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Danny Valencia 3B
Dioner Navarro C
John Mayberry, Jr. 1B
Dalton Pompey CF
Kevin Pillar LF
Steve Tolleson
J.A. Happ LHP

eencina@baltsun.com

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