One year ago I was posting photos of Jeremy Affeldt throwing sunflower seeds at Billy Hayes in the visitors’ bullpen at Dodger Stadium. Affeldt is making rehab appearances for the Fresno Grizzlies these days, but his absence only meant more camera time for Santiago Casilla.
Casilla is known as the eighth inning guy, and that’s mostly it. The only real glimpses we get of his personality come from his all-too-rare plate appearances. Part of that is because Casilla doesn’t do any interviews — at least that I’ve heard — in English. So while the Giants’ bullpen is known for having a fiery photobomber in Sergio Romo, a wacky modern-day Jack Tripper in Affeldt, and a studious secret agent in Javier Lopez, the other reliever who’s been with the Giants the longest is just … Casilla.
That’s could and should change, as we’ll see in a bit. I’m not calling for the Giants to give Casilla an animal nickname, but it seems like popularity and personality give players more leeway with fans. For whatever reason, Casilla is the guy you’ll most often hear fans refer to as the guy who “just scares me when he’s out there.” But Casilla has an ERA of 2.16 in 234 games with the Giants. His walk rate is a little high, but when you’re looking at setup guys with closing experience who throw hard, Casilla isn’t a bad option.
Before we take a look at Casilla, Romo and Hector Sanchez looked like a couple guys who’ve put some serious thought into their pregame handshake. Once I started picturing “Insane In The Brain” playing in the background, with Romo as B-Real and Sanchez as Sen Dog, it was impossible to get that image out of my head.
Now it’s time for Casilla, who doesn’t seem a guy who goes into games feeling nervous about much.
Here he is, playing David Lee-esque defense against bullpen coach Taira Uematsu, who tossed his empty protein shake bottle into the wastebasket in the corner.
Casilla didn’t put up much resistance there, but his competitive spirit cannot be questioned. As proof, here’s Casilla absolutely destroying poor Mark Gardner in a game of rock-paper-scissors.
I’m not sure what Casilla won here, but Gardner was gracious in defeat.