WASHINGTON — Washington Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo says he doesn’t plan on having infielder Starlin Castro back with the team this season.
Castro was placed on administrative leave July 16 by Major League Baseball under its domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy.
Rizzo, speaking with a group of reporters about a variety of issues prior to the Nationals’ game against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday, didn’t say if his statement on Castro was based on the whether the process will play out in time or not.
“The process is the process,” he said. “You asked the question, ‘Do I plan on having Starlin Castro back’ and I said I do not plan on having him back.”
The leave was imposed under the policy adopted by MLB and the players’ union in 2015 and can be the initial step leading to a longer suspension. The administrative leave — during which a player is paid but cannot play for up to seven days — has been extended for players under the policy in the past while MLB investigates an allegation.
Rizzo said he learned about the situation the night before Castro was placed on leave. He said he has not spoken with Castro.
“I was surprised,” Rizzo said. “I was angered by it. … it’s something that cannot happen and should not happen. It will not happen with the Washington Nationals otherwise we will fix it, and that was my thoughts at the time.”
Castro was accused of sexual assault in connection with a 2011 incident in Chicago but was not charged. Rizzo said Castro was vetted before the Nationals signed him to a two-year contract in January 2020.
“I was very disappointed when I found out the news. You know we do (vet potential acquisitions). We pride ourselves on – you’ve heard me say it a million times – you read about our guys in the sports section and not the other sections,” Rizzo said. “And this time we failed and I’m responsible for the players I put on the roster and on the field.”
“We did a lot of due diligence specifically with this player because of his past and because we had a lot of inside information on him because he played for some of our coaches, so going into it … when we signed him, I felt comfortable,” he said.
Rizzo said he spoke to the team following the Castro announcement.
“We’ve got to do better. We’ve got to do better at this. The whole world has to do better at this,” Rizzo said he told the team. “And it’s unacceptable and it’s zero tolerance here and I don’t care how good of a player you are, it’s zero tolerance and we’re just not going to put up with it.”
Castro, 31, was placed on the restricted list June 16 due to what manager Dave Martinez at the time said were “family matters.” Castro was reinstated two days later and pinch-hit in a game that night against the New York Mets.
“(That) had nothing to do with this issue at all,” Rizzo said.
Castro is hitting .283 with three home runs and 38 RBIs in 87 games this season. He is in his second year with the Nationals after stints with the Cubs, Yankees and Marlins.