|One day after surprise trade, Castillo hopes to stick with Mets|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 31 July 2007 14:49|
Perhaps even beyond this year.
``I hope to stay,'' said Castillo, who can become a free agent at the end of the season. ``I want to stay here.''
Castillo bristled after the Twins traded him to the Mets for two prospects on Monday, saying on his way out of town that he was ``not feeling too good, because I like the team.''
After joining his new team in Milwaukee on Tuesday, Castillo admitted he was caught off guard by the deal because nobody told him he was on the trading block. But after some thought, Castillo said he wasn't upset about being sent to a contender.
``You know, I had a little surprise, but it's good for me,'' Castillo said. ``So I'll be here, and (it's a) good team - and that's what I need, too.''
Mets manager Willie Randolph put Castillo in the lineup right away, playing second base and batting second in the first game of a three-game series against the Brewers.
``I've always admired his game,'' Randolph said. ``He's a tremendous player, brings a lot to the table - especially defensively for us. It's always nice to (make) a solid addition to your ballclub. We're not looking for him to do anything more than just go out and play solid baseball, and winning baseball. He's got rings on his fingers, so that's a nice addition for us.''
Castillo was a member of the Marlins' 2003 World Championship team, and Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca said Castillo would bring a winning attitude to the Mets' clubhouse.
``He's a gamer,'' said Lo Duca, who played with Castillo in Florida. ``He's one of my favorite teammates that I've played with.''
Castillo said this year's Mets team reminds him of the Marlins' championship team.
``That's what I've been thinking,'' Castillo said. ``We've got a lot of good players here, and speed, and guys who know how to play the game. That's a good thing.''
Castillo will bat behind Jose Reyes and ahead of Carlos Beltran when Beltran returns from an abdominal muscle injury - giving the Mets three switch-hitters at the top of their lineup when healthy.
A three-time Gold Glove winner, Castillo becomes part of a standout infield with Reyes at shortstop, David Wright at third and Carlos Delgado at first.
Bad knees have limited Castillo's speed over the past few seasons, and Castillo said he was looking forward to playing home games on natural grass at Shea Stadium.
``That's much better for me,'' Castillo said. ``The turf is very hard for my knee.''
Castillo fills a major void for the Mets, who lost second baseman Jose Valentin to a broken bone in his right leg when he fouled off a pitch at Dodger Stadium on June 21.
Ruben Gotay had been filling in at second base and playing fairly well. But Gotay said he understood why the Mets made the move and will use it as a learning experience.
``I've just got to come up here and get the job done,'' Gotay said.
Randolph pulled Gotay aside in the clubhouse to offer a few words of encouragement before Tuesday's game, but Randolph said he didn't feel like he was taking a starting job away from Gotay.
``I wouldn't say that he was the starting second baseman, per se, so it wasn't like you have to have a conversation like he lost his job,'' Randolph said.
Randolph said he makes a point of encouraging all of his young role players.
``Just because you bring in another player doesn't diminish how you feel about yourself,'' Randolph said.
The Mets improved by adding Castillo, but the division rival Atlanta Braves were one of the most active teams just before the non-waiver trade deadline on Tuesday. Atlanta added Texas Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira, Kansas City reliever Octavio Dotel and San Diego reliever Royce Ring in three separate deals.
The Braves began play on Tuesday in third place in the N.L. East, 4 1/2 games behind the Mets and 1 1/2 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies.
``You'd have to assume they're better because they added some quality players,'' Randolph said. ``But that's all going to play out. We'll see.''