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D-backs C Welington Castillo still feeling slump despite big bombs

Arizona Diamondbacks' Welington Castillo points to the sky as he arrives at home plate after hitting a home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the eighth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 22, 2016, in Phoenix. The Pirates defeated the Diamondbacks 8-7. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Welington Castillo insists something’s not right.

But it appears the Arizona Diamondbacks catcher remembers his first 27 at-bats in the young season and not the last 25. While Castillo is hitting a meager .231 as of Saturday, the results would indicate that he’s turned a corner following a poor start to 2016.

Castillo has hit five home runs in his last six hits over the course of his last six games. He has two RBI each in three of his last four games.

That stretch included a solo shot off of Jake Peavy in a 9-7 win at San Francisco on Monday. Two nights later in the Bay Area, he jacked a pitch out of the park on a 0-2 count against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner for the only D-backs offense of a 2-1 Arizona win.

Even after cranking out two solo homers Friday in an 8-7 loss against the Pirates, Castillo said he still hasn’t figured it out.

“Honestly, I don’t feel really, really good,” he said. “I feel my timing a little bit off. I just try to go to the plate every time with my plan and try to compete, even I don’t feel like my timing is there consistently.”

Maybe not, but a strong surge of late has correlated with the Diamondbacks winning five straight before falling short in the series-opening game against Pittsburgh.

“He had a couple big ones in San Fran and a couple tonight,” Arizona manager Chip Hale said Friday night. “Hitting is one of those things. He’s telling you he doesn’t feel this or that. But he’s starting to get it, it’s starting to come.”

Since being traded to Arizona from Seattle during 2015, the catcher has prided himself on worrying about his job behind the plate rather than at it. It’s possible Castillo is feeling the pressure catching for a pitching staff that — aside from strong starts from Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray in San Francisco — is struggling.

Patrick Corbin was the latest to trash his game-plan after giving up three bombs and five runs against the Pirates.

“When he was warming on the bullpen, I feel he doesn’t have his best stuff,” Castillo said.

From there, Castillo asked Corbin how he felt. The pitcher didn’t feel comfortable with his fastball, so the two made the joint decision to go exclusively with a sinker-slider combination and away from the fastball and the changeup.

It worked. Corbin survived through six innings and gave Arizona a chance to win.

“I just give it one or two innings. I see it’s not there,” Castillo said. “We sinkered down, away and (used the) slider, and he was able to throw six inning(s).”

Maybe soon, the catcher will see that same turning of the corner in his own game.

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