Cubs' Nick Castellanos Loves The Pressure To Win

Acquired in a trade deadline deal, Castellanos has been rejuvenated in Chicago.

Bruce Levine
September 18, 2019 - 12:00 pm

CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- One constant for the Cubs amid a tight playoff race has been the excellence of outfielder Nick Castellanos.

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Acquired from the Tigers just minutes before the trade deadline passed on July 31, Castellanos has been a beacon of consistency amid what's been a turbulent season for the Cubs. He's hitting .333 with 15 homers, 35 RBIs, 38 runs and a 1.044 OPS in 44 games with his new team. 

Castellanos has also reveled in being a key part of a playoff race for the first time since he was a rookie in 2014. The ensuing five seasons in Detroit have been marked by struggles and/or an organizational rebuild, and that was wearing on Castellanos. Specifically, he didn't feel like the team component meant much amid the losing seasons.

"I come from an atmosphere where the only reason guys were showing up was for individual success," Castellanos said. "I am not saying it's wrong of those individuals -- but understanding where we were as a team. Of course, you show up in spring training wanting to win. Very quickly reality sets in that you don't have the team to do it."

The winning atmosphere surrounding the Cubs and the big crowds of Wrigley Field have rejuvenated Castellanos after so much tortuous losing.

"You start looking around that clubhouse and you see veterans who are trying to resurrect their careers, you see young players trying to establish themselves and prove themselves and stay up here so they don't get sent down," Castellanos said of his time in Detroit. "There are a variety of other personal reasons guys decide to show up at the ballpark. So for me being here in this clubhouse, being in this organization at this time is a beautiful thing. The sole purpose here is showing up and playing winning baseball."

Castellanos has brought an intensity and a sense of fun that has been contagious for Cubs players, coaches and staffers.

"From the beginning, I really liked his joy for the day he brought," manager Joe Maddon said. "Then we got to watch his approach to hitting. He is very motivated and very driven right now. The approach, the ball is on the barrel all of the time. It's how he uses his hands and stays inside the baseball. He is a gap kind of hitter. He is not just trying to launch and hit homers. He is a real driven young man who has a nice way about him."

Castellanos has already learned plenty in his seven weeks in Chicago.

"This team is unbelievably talented," Castellanos said. "Second is that there is an expectation of winning. That comes from the front office and coaching staff as well as the players. I like expectations, and I enjoy the pressure to perform. I came from a place where there were (few eyes on you) to all eyes on you here. I really enjoy that."

Castellanos will be a free agent at season's end. While expressing his love for the Cubs, he hasn't let his mind wander to the future yet.

"I am just being myself here," Castellanos said. "Just knowing that Theo (Epstein) and Jed (Hoyer) acquired me thinking that I could help this team win was all the motivation I needed to strap it on and get ready to go. I have learned to focus on right now through my experience of finding out things don't always go the way you imagine them to. I just try to be the best player and person I can be. The rest is going to happen the way it supposed to happen."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.