TC preferred Castillo reported early

February, 18, 2011
Terry Collins spoke with Luis Castillo by telephone on Thursday afternoon, and the second baseman told the skipper he would see him Saturday, on the day position players officially report. Still, Collins acknowledged, he would have preferred Castillo report early -- perhaps "selfishly" -- so that Castillo would be "sending a message to the organization" with his actions about his commitment to making the team.

"I was hoping he would be here," Collins said. "Yeah, I was hoping he would be here, just so I can get the conversation over. And, again, I'm a real believer in sending a message to the organization as a player. I thought Johan Santana did that yesterday. I thought he sent a message to everybody on that team that I'm behind you."

Still, Collins said: "I also know he's in the Dominican. I know he went to the [Mets'] academy. I know he's done some other things. I know he's working out. I'm aware of that. I guess it's selfishness on my part that I wish he would have been here."

New arrivals Friday included outfielders Scott Hairston, Willie Harris and Angel Pagan.

Also Friday:

• Collins said he plans to meet Saturday with Carlos Beltran. The manager seemed to imply that he believes Beltran would be best served playing right field this season, so that there's less running involved because you don't need to worry about balls in both gaps. Still, like with Oliver Perez and a chance to start, Beltran will be afforded the opportunity to claim center field.

"As I told Ollie -- I truly believe this -- you've got to buy into this," Collins said. "... We saw it in the minor leagues where you have a kid from high school or college coming in and you think there's a flaw in his swing, but he's always hit .300 and .350. When do you fix it? You fix it when he doesn't hit .350 anymore. And so in the case of Carlos, when he's going to come in here and say, 'Look, I can play center field. I'm feeling great. My leg is feeling really, really good. I want to play center field.' He's got to go find out if his leg is going to hold up. I think I owe that to him. I think you need to do that, even though I think I'd like to say, 'Jeez, Carlos, are you sure this [presumably right field] isn't better so we don't ever have to worry about your knee bothering you?' But, again, together we'll make the right call."

Collins said a decisive switch would be made midway through spring training if warranted.

"He's athletic enough to make this switch fast, I'm sure, if that happens," Collins said.

The manager added that one of his bigger concerns if there's a switch is that Pagan in center might defer too much to Beltran on balls in right-center -- when it's supposed to be the opposite -- and that a ball will accidentally drop as a result. Collins recalled having a 40-year-old second baseman and 20-year-old shortstop in Japan and found the shortstop deferring too much.

Collins also acknowledged it's important to get off on the right start with the tricky situation while doing what's right for the team.

"It's huge," Collins said. "That's why I want to make this decision together. I want to make sure he's 100 percent with whatever decision it's going to be because the minute your heart is not in it is when we're going to have some failure. I don't want failure here. I want success. So I want to make sure Carlos knows I'm willing to do what he thinks is going to make him the best player."

• Collins had no more clarity about when catcher Ronny Paulino (visa) might arrive. The previous estimate was Saturday.

• In a light moment, Collins stood during his press conference. The TV folks back in New York told him he was too short and they'd otherwise have to cut down the microphone that was obstructing his face. Collins lightheartedly told the story of having a similar experience while managing at Houston in the mid-1990s. A media relations executive advised him to stand up because the camera was always looking down at him. "Are you aware if I stand up the camera is still looking down at me?" Collins recalled quipping at the time.

• Collins praised 6-foot-10 Chris Young's bullpen session, calling it fluid and saying Young had good extension.

Adam Rubin

ESPN Staff Writer
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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Jacob deGrom
15 3.55 228 195
BAA. Cabrera .279
HRJ. Bruce 29
RBIJ. Bruce 75
RM. Conforto 72
OPSA. Cabrera .785
ERAJ. deGrom 3.55
SOJ. deGrom 228