Castro ready for bigger workload behind plate

Castro ready for bigger workload behind plate

VIERA, Fla. -- Three years removed from reconstructive knee surgery, Astros All-Star catcher Jason Castro is prepared to carry an even bigger workload this year after missing most of September when he had to have a cyst drained in his surgically repaired knee.

Castro played in a career-high 120 games in 2013 and caught 98 games, which was a big jump over the 79 he caught in '12 in his first year back from surgery. The goal this season, Castro said, is to surpass 100 games behind the plate.

"I was feeling good all the way until the end of last year, when I kind of tweaked my knee stepping on a base," he said. "I felt great up until that point, and I don't see why I can't continue to push it even more. If I would have continued on that road, I would have ended with well over 100 games caught, and that's easily reachable this year. I don't see why I would any trouble getting past that."

Astros manager Bo Porter said he'll lean on Castro heavily, giving him days off behind the plate by slotting him as designated hitter and giving him day games off following night games.

"There are some times I'm going to take [playing time] out of his hands and there's other times … I'm going to check in with him and make sure we're staying on course as far as how his body feels," he said. "Catching every day in the big leagues is grueling, and if you don't map it out or get him to make it out, the guy could end up not being as productive as he's capable of being. It's definitely something that's a priority of ours, to make sure we keep that guy fresh."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.