PEORIA, Ariz. – Even though it seemed obvious to those around him, Luis Castillo didn’t think he would receive the honor again.

Despite his immense talent and standing within the team, he is not arrogant enough to live up to such expectations.

Castillo also isn’t narcissistic enough to look at his Cactus League start dates and carry them over to the regular season.

As the days of spring training passed without the Mariners making an opening day announcement on their starting pitcher, Castillo never thought much about it and devoted himself to his daily preparation.

But a few days ago, while he was working out in the gym, manager Scott Servais stopped by and asked Castillo to visit his office.

Servais delivered the expected news before pitchers and catchers reported for spring training. Castillo would be the opening day starter against the Boston Red Sox on March 28 at T-Mobile Park.

When jokingly asked if he was surprised to be named the Opening Day starter, Castillo gave a serious answer through interpreter Freddy Llanos.

“Yeah, it surprised me,” he said. “I just thought it came down to the last week, so I was a little shocked and really happy about that.”


He was the Mariners’ opener a year ago and is still considered the No. 1 pitcher in a rotation that is among the best in baseball.


Everyone else was just waiting for Servais to state the obvious. The delay appeared to coincide with the league-wide announcement of an MLB Network show.

“You may have known, but I didn’t,” Castillo said. “I mean, we have such a talented rotation that it could go either way. So I didn’t really know.”

For his fellow starters, this last sentence was not just a platitude. In other years or in other organizations, Logan Gilbert and George Kirby vied for Opening Day honors. You could certainly get the chance in the future.

But for now, it’s Castillo’s honor. And that doesn’t come naturally to him.

He started twice on Opening Day for the Reds and last year for the Mariners.

“It’s just the hard work and the work I’ve put in over the years,” he said. “That’s a big dream for any starter, to get the start on Opening Day.”

Castillo threw six shutout innings against the Guardians on Opening Day last season, allowing just one hit with no walks and six strikeouts. He didn’t make the decision in the Mariners’ 3-0 win. He finished the season with a 14-9 record and a 3.34 ERA in 33 starts, the best of his career. In 197 innings, he hit .219 with 56 walks. He made the AL All-Star team and finished fifth in the Cy Young Award voting.

Every year he sets his goals to be the Opening Day starter, make the All-Star team and win the Cy Young. Could he complete that trifecta this season?

Servais recognizes the continued growth mindset of a veteran pitcher who still isn’t satisfied.

“It changes a little bit, as it often does with players,” Servais said. “I think Luis might want to establish himself as an elite pitcher in our league rather than one of the elite pitchers in our league. And we will see. You have to stay healthy and continue to improve, make adjustments and do everything you’re capable of.”

Short jumps

The Mariners made two roster moves on Tuesday. Outfielder Cade Marlowe was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma and right-handed pitcher Joey Krehbiel was moved to the minor leagues.

Marlowe played in 15 games this spring and posted a .296/.296/.481 slash line with eight hits, including two doubles and a homer, and three RBI. He provides depth in the outfield in the event of an injury.

Krehbiel signed as a minor league free agent this offseason and appeared in six Cactus League games, allowing five runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He was slowed down by a neck strain.

  • The Mariners will have livestream webcasts for the split-squad game against the Brewers on Friday and the spring breakout game against the Padres on Saturday – both at Peoria Stadium. Fans can watch the game on and the Mariners YouTube channel.

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