- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo does not expect infielder Starlin Castro to return to the team this season after he was placed on administrative leave Friday following an accusation of domestic violence.

MLB is investigating the domestic violence accusation.

According to joint MLB and MLB players association policy, Castro can remain on the administrative leave list for as long as seven days; but his stay on the list can be extended if MLB and MLBPA both agree. Placement on the administrative list allows MLB to investigate the incident fully.

The Nationals learned Castro would be placed on administrative leave by MLB on Thursday night. That prompted Rizzo to tell Washington’s players: “We got to do better. We got to do better than this. The whole world has to do better than this, and it’s unacceptable.

“It’s zero tolerance here,” Rizzo added. “I don’t care how good of a player you are. It’s zero tolerance, and we’re just not gonna put up with it. It’s not something that Davey Martinez and Mike Rizzo’s Washington Nationals are gonna have on this team.”

Castro was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2011, but charges were not filed. At the time, a Cook County, Illinois, spokesperson told the Chicago Sun-Times that there was “insufficient evidence to bring forth criminal charges” against Castro.

Castro was also placed on the restricted list last month to deal with a family matter, Nationals manager Dave Martinez said June 16. The 31-year-old infielder returned in short order. The June incident and the domestic violence accusation aren’t believed to be connected in any way.

“Absolutely not,” Martinez said Friday, saying he wasn’t aware of the domestic violence accusation in June. “Like I said, I would have never, ever. … This is a totally different situation. If I would have known about this a month ago, we would have had a different conversation, I can tell you that.”

Rizzo took responsibility for the vetting process of Castro. He thought he and the organization had vetted Castro sufficiently, considering his past allegation of sexual assault. But Rizzo said they ultimately fell short.

“You’ve heard me say it a million times, that you read about our guys in the sports section and not the other sections,” Rizzo said. “And this time we failed. I’m responsible for the players that I put on our roster and on the field.”

Rizzo’s comments echo the tone Martinez used Friday when discussing Castro’s situation with reporters.

“Speaking for myself, I think it’s awful,” Martinez said. “So he’s going to be on administrative leave, and then after that, they’re going to have an investigation, so I don’t know much about anything else, but he will not be with the team.”

Castro is one of three players under MLB’s administrative leave policy currently. Atlanta Braves outfielder Marcell Ozuna was charged with battery and aggravated assault by strangulation in May after police officers say they saw him attack his wife. And Los Angeles Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer’s administrative leave was extended to July 27 as MLB and police investigate assault allegations.

On Friday, when asked if Castro would be welcomed back to the team if MLB cleared him for such a return, Martinez said “when that process is done, that will be another conversation.”

Martinez added that “until he goes through that process, I really have nothing to say to him or anybody about it.”

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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