Rusney Castillo debuts in the Gulf Coast League

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Rusney Castillo made his debut in MLB-affiliated ball on Sunday afternoon with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox, singling through the left side of the infield in his first of two plate appearances and striking out looking in his second. He attempted a stolen base after that first-inning single but got thrown out on a close play. It was the Cuban defector’s first organized baseball game since July 2013. He spoke to reporters through a translator afterward and beat writer Sean McAdam of CSNNewEngland.com was on the scene

“It feels great,” said Castillo through translator, Laz Gutierrez, the Red Sox’ player development program coordinator. “It was a good day. I’ve wanted this day to come for a long time now. It finally got here. It feels good physically and mentally. … I’ve done this for a long time. (Being back and playing) is like riding a bike. I felt good and I was happy to be back out there today.”

Castillo signed a record seven-year, $72.5 million contract with the Red Sox on August 22 and is expected to make his major league debut at some point in September. The highly-athletic 27-year-old outfielder will probably play one more game in the GCL before moving on to Double-A Portland or Triple-A Pawtucket.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.

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Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.