Like all shortstops, I rely a lot on my double-play partner. Fortunately, I've had an excellent second baseman in Jose Castillo alongside me the past couple years.
Castillo does a great job. He's always done well defensively. He probably turns the fastest double play I've ever seen, and then you add in his canon for an arm to round it out.
Offensively, Jose really came into his own in 2006, realizing his stroke. He has tremendous power and is starting to grasp that he doesn't have to swing hard on every pitch.
That pop at a middle-infield position is huge for us. The fact that he plays second and does hit for power is great. He's hit a lot in the bottom of the order, but he has the potential to be a middle-of-the-lineup hitter with the type of power he has.
A lot of people don't see that facet of his game because he didn't hit that many homers in his first couple of years, but he probably has more power than anyone else on our team.
In the field, he can make the tremendous play. He can make the routine play, too. If he's going to make an error, it's on a ball that most guys wouldn't even get to in the first place. He believes he can make a play on every ball, even if no one else can. Sometimes that attitude can end up making you throw the ball away, but that's the risk taken.
I didn't really see a lot of Jose when he was in the Minor Leagues. I was already up here when he was in the Minors. I saw him once in Spring Training and thought he was going to be a pretty good player. I recall wondering if he could play short because he had such a strong arm, and sometimes he would let one loose that would end up in the stands.
Bill Mazeroski, a legendary Pirates second baseman, has had a lot of good things to say about Jose, too. Any praise you get from a nine-time Gold Glove second baseman is an honor. Those compliments are well deserved.
Jose speaks Spanish primarily, and he and I are both trying to pick up on each other's language better. I would have to say that he's doing a much better job than I am. We're working on it, though. We have different ways of communicating on the field, with hand gestures and such. Baseball is a universal game, so sooner or later, what needs to be said is comprehended.
Jack Wilson has played all six of his Major League seasons with Pittsburgh. Jose Castillo, a native of Venezuela, finished 2006 with career highs in home runs (14) and RBIs (65).
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.