SARASOTA, Fla. -- As pitchers and catchers took the field for the first time at the Ed Smith Stadium complex Feb. 14, the Orioles had a new catcher in charge.
With Matt Wieters, who was the team's No. 1 catcher for nearly eight seasons, still looking for a new address, Welington Castillo, who replaces him, is getting to know his team.
Castillo, who was non-tendered by Arizona, was signed as Wieters' replacement Dec. 16, 2016. He signed a $6 million contract with a $7 million player option for 2018.
While at first torn about whether to represent the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, Castillo finally decided that it was something he wanted to do.
"Honestly, I was a little bit in between because I know I'm going to a new team, new players, new pitching staff," Castillo said. "I'm going to have time to get to know them. At the same time, I want to represent my country. It's a really good experience [when] you go there."
Castillo, who will leave camp to join the Dominican Republic's team March 5, is excited about the WBC.
"We are blessed because the Dominican Republic has a lot of good players," Castillo said, "but the WBC is every three or four years, so who is going to guarantee me that I'll still be in baseball in three or four more years? Why not go there and get the experience?
"I have a lot of guys there who I practice with in the offseason, so you're going to be around them. And you're competing against other teams and other players, too, so I think it's going to be a good experience, and the competition is going to be good, too."
Castillo has less than three weeks to learn the pitching staff before he leaves for the WBC, and if the Dominican Republic reaches the final, he'll have barely a week of Grapefruit League play remaining before the season begins.
"I think I'm going to have enough time to know them. I know there's a lot of guys in here," Castillo said. "Day-by-day, I'm going to get to know them. I've been in touch and asking Caleb [Joseph] about them, each pitcher because I don't know anybody here. It's not going to take me a long time because when I was traded to Arizona, it's going to be the same thing almost like [when] you get traded to another team when you don't know the pitching staff, you've got to get to know them pretty quick. I feel that I'm going to be good and that everybody in here knows what to do, too, so it's going to be easier for me."
"When the bullpens start today, it's going to be easier, too because I'm going to get to know them and ask them, 'What do you like to do? Where do you like to set up?' Stuff like that. That's how you get to know them and you might have an idea about what like might like to do, too."
Joseph, who lost his arbitration hearing Feb. 1 and will be paid $700,000 for this season, is eager for the year to begin and to forget about the arbitration experience.
"For me, 2016 is in the books. Gone. Excited to move forward. Very hopeful and optimistic," Joseph said. "I feel great. But yeah, that entire trial … I will say this, I really appreciated the way they went about the trial. Their arguments inside the trial, they were very respectful. I didn't walk out of there with any hard feelings. None whatsoever. I don't feel like the relationship changed at all. And I did want to say that because it was a very straight-forward, factual trial. I heard some horror stories from people about how bad the experience can be, but for me it was not that bad. And that was good. I'm glad about that."
Joseph knows his 2016 RBI-less season will be continually brought up -- until he drives in a run in 2017.
"You want to get off to a good start, but I don't come into spring feeling like there's a monkey or a gorilla or a host of gorillas on my back," Joseph said. "I really don't. I know I'm a valuable part of this team, period. I'm not going in scared or nervous or shaking if I don't get a hit my first at-bat. ... I believe in myself way too much to feel that way."