Feb 19

Castillo makes good impression ….

Jose Reyes said he looked like a kid. Jerry Manuel said he looked lighter. Luis Castillo reported to spring training 17 pounds lighter: “I’m a new man, right now.”

The Mets were unable to rid themselves of Castillo’s contract, so he’s back in camp with his value in the hope of a bounce back season. Manuel may bat Castillo first or second, but he has options because the veteran reported in good shape.

No Met faces more pressure to get off to a fast start (to quiet the boo birds who are lining up now) than Castillo. It’s a good sign he took things seriously in the offseason and shed the weight that put pressure on his knees.

We don’t know how Castillo will do, but he’s determined to make another impression. So far, so good.

Feb 18

Questions in outfield corners

CHURCH: Can he stay healthy?

CHURCH: Can he stay healthy?

All winter I trumpeted the need for pitching over adding a bat in the outfield as a priority. I still think pitching is more important. HOWEVER, since the Mets have basically the same rotation as last year, it has given me pause.

I’m not convinced the Mets will have a flawless season with their outfield corners.

I like Ryan Church, but we have to accept that he had two good months before the second concussion did in his season. We don’t know, had he stayed healthy, what kind of year he would have had. So, it stands to reason he’s a question.

Then there is the left field platoon of Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tatis. The Mets caught lightning in a bottle with them last year. Will they have duplicate seasons? I don’t know.

Feb 17

The team to beat?

Francisco Rodriguez said the Mets are the team to beat, which is the attitude they should take. Afterall, do you want your team to think it can’t win?

But, the truth is, the Phillies are the defending champions. They are the team to beat. The Mets can talk all they want. It makes interesting chat for a day or two. However, until they do it on the field, which they haven’t done, it’s all hot air.

Feb 16

Santana update

While the Phillies are set with Cole Hamels as their Opening Day starter, the Mets aren’t there yet with Johan Santana.

Santana threw a 30-pitch bullpen session Sunday, and is not yet at full strength following surgery to repair a torn mtorn meniscus in his left knee.

“Everything is where it’s supposed to be,” Santana told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “I don’t expect to be 100 percent right away. It’s going to take some time. We’ve got around seven weeks to get everything going and I’m pretty sure we’re not going to have any problems.”