Castillo evaluating options

March, 18, 2011
Luis Castillo, who was released by the Mets on Friday, will evaluate several options to continue playing in the majors, but a decision probably will not happen before noon on Sunday, he told

"I feel calm, confident that I will be in a major league roster on opening day of the season," Castillo said in phone call in Spanish with

"Despite all the negative atmosphere of recent days, I'm positive and in the best shape for a long time," said Castillo, who is batting .283 in 28 at-bats in the spring.

Castillo, 35, was unconditionally released by the Mets in the final year of a four-year, $25 million deal. New York must pay $6 million. In 48 hours -- after 1 p.m. on Sunday -- will be free to sign with another team for the major league minimum salary of $414,000. (That amount would be deducted from the sum the Mets owe.)

Although Castillo refused to confirm this, a source told that the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and Florida Marlins are interested in the services of a player.

Philadelphia faces Opening Day without the star Chase Utley, who is deal with sore knees that prevented him from participating in exhibition games this spring. Florida would be interested in some support if rookie Matt Dominguez does not take to third base and Omar Infante is moved to the hot corner. Blake DeWitt, a .259 hitter in five seasons, is scheduled to be the regular second baseman in Chicago.

"Until Sunday I can not talk of contract, but I'm sure I have options. I am not finished as it has been painted," Castillo said, adding he did not hold a grudge against the Mets.

"I enjoyed every moment in New York and will always be grateful to the Mets. I have nothing negative to say about the organization," he said. "Baseball is a business."

Castillo has been selected to the All-Star Game three times and won three Gold Gloves, but he came into camp fighting for the Mets' second base job with four other candidates: Daniel Murphy, Luis Hernandez, Brad Emaus and Justin Turner.

Castillo hit .302 with 20 steals in 486 at-bats in 2009, but physical discomfort significantly affected his performance (.235, 8 steals in 235-bats) last season.

"After a long evaluation during spring training, after consultation with the manager and coaching staff, I made a recommendation to ownership in the best interest of the organization," said Sandy Alderson, general manager of the Mets.

"Obviously, we wanted to see how he was physically for fielding and batting. I think Louie made a great effort, but we felt that this was best for both parties, taking into account our other alternatives."

The Dominican was stolen base leader in the National League twice and helped the Florida Marlins win the World Series in 2003. He has batted .290 with 370 steals in 15 seasons with the Marlins, Mets and Twins.

"I can still help a team, and with God I hope to have the opportunity to prove it in the field," Castillo said.

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for and



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