Interview: Portland hitting coach Jose Castro

Names like Paul McAnulty, Jack Cust and Jon Knott dotted the Portland Beavers lineup this past year and none knew them better than their hitting coach, Jose Castro.

Portland Beavers hitting coach Jose Castro was considered for a roving instructor job this off-season with the Seattle Mariners but will return to the San Diego Padres' Triple-A club in 2007.

We recently caught up with Castro for his take on several members of the 2006 Portland Beavers.

It seemed like this year you had a little bit of an older squad. How difficult was that for you to get some of your points across to guys who may be more set in their ways? Was it difficult?

Jose Castro: Not really. Maybe at the beginning if everyone is coming from a different organization and in a way they are set in their own ways because of the time they put in. But I adjust to their style and slowly throw something at them from what I believe can help them. We don't push anything on them and they have worked well. The veteran guys understand their swing pace and what they need to do to be successful. If you can tap off of that it is a bonus.

Paul McAnulty obviously got a shot up in San Diego late in the year but what did you see from him on a day-to-day basis in Portland?

Jose Castro: First of all he really has a lot of confidence in himself as a hitter. He has an attitude about him that he can hit, which is big. Put that together with his ability to swing the bat and it is a good combination. There are times when he will get over aggressive and with two strikes he will chase, chasing up in the zone when he gets in that too aggressive mode. Other than that he handles pitches away from him and in as well.

Jon Knott resurfaced this year after having a down year in 2005. Perhaps it was a hangover from making it to the majors the year before or not but he was clutch this season.

Jose Castro: Knott, I will tell you what before we get into his hitting, is a great human being. A true professional and great teammate. I always look for people to be like Jon Knott – that is how highly I think of Jon.

On his offensive side, he has power to all fields and he is aggressive at the plate. He makes a lot of mistakes but if you hang something he doesn't miss it. With his strength if he gets the ball up in the air it is going to go. And he did it on a consistent basis. Remember, he didn't play the first month of the season and he started swinging and led the league in home runs and RBI's. That is about all you can say about him.

Jack Cust led the nation in walks. Is there a point for you where you have to say ‘maybe if you add some aggressiveness to your game you will get your shot a little earlier.' Or do you just let him play his game.

Jose Castro: There is nothing wrong with being that disciplined. There are times when there are pitches he should be able to his because he is so strong but again he hit his 30 and hit .295 so what do you not like offensively? He did a great job. He has great strike zone awareness, power to all fields and has a good eye. He has a lot going for him. What he did – he had an outstanding year.

You see these guys play everyday. When they go up to the big leagues a lot of them will either come in as a platoon or be relegated to the bench. When you are an everyday player it has to be a very difficult thing to go to a bench job.

Jose Castro: Absolutely. It is not easy. Not everyone can do that. Some guys might have to do that. Just because they do well in the minor leagues on an everyday basis might not turn out to be an everyday player in the big leagues but they are good enough to stay in there and platoon, whether it is a utility player, fourth or fifth outfielder or third catcher. You never know. Sometimes you get caught in an outfield that is solid all the way across and become a backup outfielder and that is your role.

On a personal note, you went to Seattle for the roving instructor job. How did it go? And what is next for you?

Jose Castro: It went real well. They went with Alonzo Powell - it was him and myself, the finalists. Everything I thought went well. It is just one of those things.

The next step will be whatever happens. I am happy where I am at with the Padres. We have a good group here. Am I pushing to get a rover's job or big league job? No. I am just doing my job and whatever happens, happens.

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