Twins' Willi Castro named to AL All-Star team as replacement for Jose Altuve

Minnesota Twins infielder Willi Castro has been named as a replacement to the American League All-Star squad. He’ll replace Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, who will sit out with a sore left hand, on the AL roster. Texas Rangers second baseman Marcus Semien will take Altuve’s place in the starting lineup.

Castro, 27, has been every bit the utilityman for the Twins this season, playing at least 20 games at second base, shortstop, left field, third base and centerfield. He’s even made two appearances as a pitcher, throwing 1 1/3 scoreless and hitless innings.

However, he’s been a starting caliber player for Minnesota. Castro has been the team’s starter at second base since Edouard Julien was sent down at the beginning of June. And when shortstop Carlos Correa was out with a hand injury, Castro started there.

The six-year veteran is also having his best year at the plate, batting .268 with a .784 OPS, 22 doubles, five triples, seven home runs and 10 stolen bases. A switch-hitter, Castro is hitting .354 with a .964 OPS as a left-handed batter versus right-handed pitching. He’s played in all 93 of the Twins’ games this season.

Minnesota now has two players on the AL All-Star team with Castro joining Correa. The All-Star shortstop has touted Castro as the Twins’ most valuable player this season with his contributions all over the field.

“He plays everywhere. If somebody gets hurt, he replaces them with no problem,” Correa told reporters last month, including The Athletic’s Dan Hayes. “If you ask him to play second, he plays great defense at second base. If you ask him to play shortstop, left, center, it doesn’t matter. He plays everywhere. When you have a guy like that, he makes you so much better as a team. I think we should appreciate him way more than we do already. He’s a real great player.”

Castro signed with the Twins on a minor league deal before the 2023 season after four years with the Detroit Tigers. Last season, he stole 33 bases for Minnesota, playing mostly in left and center field and at third base.

“He’s been wonderful. We talk about Willi all the time,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told Hayes. “I think every person in our clubhouse, no matter who they are – pitcher, catcher, position player, coach, trainer – you look at and admire Willi Castro in a big way.”

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