When Nick Castellanos struck out to make the first out of the ninth inning in what would be a disappointing 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates Friday, what was remaining of the 35,578 fans who showed up to see the Phillies in their new slow pitch softball uniforms let out a lusty boo.

Castellanos heard it. Hell, he feels their frustration. He told Matt Gelb of The Athletic in St. Louis that the beginning of his season has been “shitty.” He knows he’s looked uncomfortable. He knows he’s not making hard contact. He knows all the things that we see.

But we only see so much. We only see things through a certain lens. As a professional who has honed his craft to the point where he’s earning $100 million to hit baseballs for five years for the Phillies, Castellanos sees things we don’t see. He understands the intricacies of his job – the biomechanical part – far more than we ever could.

When I asked him about that after the game – a game in which he went 1-for-4 with his lone hit being an infield single and a game in which he exited with a slash line of .160/.250/.160 for an OPS of .410 through 56 plate appearances – Castellanos gave a surprising answer.

“I don’t know,” he said “I really don’t have an answer for that.”

The question was, if when he hits skids like this – and this is a significant one, not because he’s 8-for-50, we’ve seen that before, but because he’s not gotten an extra base hit and he’s rarely hitting the ball hard at all – does he maybe revert back to things that have worked for him in the past to try and find his way out of it?

There was a reason I asked that question.

Look at his stance in this at bat against Lance Lynn in St. Louis:

He’s closed off. He’s slightly closer to the plate. His hands are way lower. It’s like he’s trying to not open up to prevent himself from chasing pitches that are outside the zone. He’s always going to be pitched that way as that’s where the book is to get Castellanos out. But, by closing his stance, he can both see that outside pitch a little better and he can get to it, even if it’s just outside the strike zone.

Now, compare that to a swing from last year:

Aside from the outcome, do you see the difference? His front foot is down. He’s slightly more open. There’s less of a leg kick. His hands are much higher. Some of the differences are subtle – but they are there.

So, I asked him about this. I asked if there was something my untrained eye was seeing, or if I was misreading it.

And it was then, that philosopher Nick gave one of his better answers.

“I stand different all the time,” he said. A lot of that has to do with, like, who I’m facing. When I feel really good, I start doing stuff. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just playing, you know? When I start thinking too much and I try to stop chasing and become more disciplined – thinking can get in the way of something that I do and I honestly don’t know how I do it.

“I think, for me, it’s just (getting back to) finding work that I believe in and then having fun is huge too. Because hitting is hard enough and if you are in a bad mood and you’re trying to figure it out, your chances are pretty low. But, if you start enjoying yourself, having fun and appreciating the people around you, you’ll be in a better mood. Happy people hit better.”

Happy people hit better.

Put that one on a t-shirt, Pagan.

The crux of Castellanos’ statement is simple – stop trying to be something I’m not and just be who I am.

He’s saying all hitters have flaws – some are just more pronounced than others, but that he’s at his best when he doesn’t have to think and he just does. Will he chase pitches when he’s that way? Sure. Will he strike out too much? Probably. But will he still hit around .270, club close to 30 homers and 40 doubles and drive in 100 runs – yeah, and you’ll take that trade off.

That version of Castellanos is far better than the version we’ve seen through his first 14 games – and Castellanos is far happier being that guy than he is being this guy.

Castellanos is one of only three regulars who hasn’t had an off day yet. The others are Kyle Schwarber, who has only served as a designated hitter, and Trea Turner.

You can tell Rob Thomson is starting to wonder if Casty needs a blow.

“I think his mental makeup is good and he wants to grind through this thing and he’s working very hard to get through it,” Thomson said. “So, we’ll go day-by-day and see. It’s just a feel.”

The Phillies face another lefty Saturday in Marco Gonzales, so he’s probably going to stay in the lineup there, but if he doesn’t have a breakout, does he possibly get a breather Sunday against Pirates ace Mitch Keller before starting a stretch of possible “get well” games against the lowly Colorado Rockies and Chicago White Sox?

Thomson always keeps those cards close to the vest, so we’ll see, but the bigger question is, can Castellanos get back to being the happy, fun-loving guy he was a season ago when he had his renaissance?

Maybe he needs a dose of Liam – who is still in school at the moment in Florida. That time will come, eventually. But he may need something to fuel the happiness before then.

Where’s WIP’s Jack Fritz with a cockamamie rallying idea when you need him?