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.
CASTILLO: All eyes on second baseman.
The most scrutinized Met figures to be second baseman Luis Castillo, the player GM Omar Minaya would have unloaded in an instant, but nobody was willing to come up with a bag of balls.
Harsh, yes … but Castillo has $18 million remaining on his contract, and is coming off a horrible, yet, injury plagued season. No Met has more pressure to come up with a fast start.
To put the odds in his favor, Jerry Manuel has to put Castillo in the spot in the order to best utilize his offensive skills, and that’s second. When Castillo is on his game, he can slap the ball around, bunt and work the count …. all which help Jose Reyes when he’s on base.
And, if Castillo is getting on base, he can be a distraction to the opposing pitcher, and as a base stealer, draw more fastballs. All this, of course, is theory based on Castillo’s performance before coming to the Mets.
All eyes are on Castillo this spring, and they won’t miss anything.