Reds: Nick Castellanos has supplanted Trevor Bauer as the emotional leader

Cincinnati Reds right fielder Nick Castellanos (2) reacts after hitting a solo home run.
Cincinnati Reds right fielder Nick Castellanos (2) reacts after hitting a solo home run. /

It didn’t take the Cincinnati Reds long to figure out who would be the emotional leader for this year’s ball club. A role that had been filled by the never-shy Trevor Bauer in 2020, the Cy Young-winner left via free agency allowing many to wonder who’d step into that integral role. Nick Castellanos has emerged, and it didn’t take very long.

Major League Baseball saw the first benches-clearing scrum in just the second game of the season. Castellanos was plunked by a Jake Woodford fastball in the fourth inning; many thought it was in retaliation for Castellanos doing a little shimmy after hitting a home run in the season opener. Castellanos offered the ball back before taking first base.

Nick Castellanos has emerged as the Reds emotional leader.

Manager Mike Shildt denied any intent on behalf of Woodford to hit Castellanos, and the the Cardinals didn’t take too kindly to Castellanos offering the ball back, especially veteran Adam Wainwright, who had this to say:

"“You never offer the ball back to the pitcher, that’s tired. He should know that.”"

Castellanos eventually scored on a wild pitch that looked like a miscommunication between Woodford and Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina; the ball hit Molina’s glove and bounced away. Castellanos slid head-first into home plate while Woodford slid towards home in what looked like an attempt to block the plate. The home-plate umpire Jim Reynolds ruled Castellanos safe, and  when the conflict escalated.

According to crew chief Jim Reynolds, Castellanos was ejected because he “re-engaged Woodford in an unnecessary fashion.” Castellanos was later handed down a two-game suspension for his actions. Meanwhile, Yadier Molina comes out of the altercation unscathed when, in my opinion, he actually broke MLB rules by putting his hands on an umpire.

Personally, I love to see the passion from Nick Castellanos. I’m an old-school kind of guy, and love to see a player stand up for himself. I love the swagger that Castellanos has right now. That chip-on-your-shoulder attitude is exactly what the Reds need to be playing with this season. Even former Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer came to Castellanos’ defense.

Nick Castellanos is white-hot right now!

Was 2020 an anomaly? I think so. It’s very early in the season, and things are still a little bit different, but having by having fans in the stands, and a 162-game schedule; things seem to be slowly returning to normal. The Reds are just too talented to believe 2020 was a reflection of what they really are.

Castellanos started out hot last season, but fizzled down the stretch. He seems even more in tune to start the 2021 season hitting .533/.588/.1.333 with three home runs (tied for the league lead) and six RBIs. His 1.922 OPS is second to only Will Smith. Castellanos’ bat is extremely hot right now, and the Reds need to ride it as long as they can. Castellanos could be the spark plug that the Reds desperately need.

Next. Castellanos' ejection is an embarrassment to baseball

It’s still very early in what will be a long, grinding season, but Nick Castellanos seems to have set the tone for the 2021 season. I think Reds fans are only just beginning to see what the slugger is capable of. Let’s hope the suspension is overturned and we see more of Nick Castellanos launching balls into the moon deck at Great American Ball Park. #FreeCastellanos