Walk-off Win Allows Castillo to Be King for a Day

April 18, 2009

At times, the most dangerous player on the field might very well be the player with the biggest chip on his shoulder. For a Mets ballclub that has experienced two consecutive seasons in which both have ended in heartbreaking defeat, you might expect there to be plenty of players left with something to prove. One of those players happens to be second baseman Luis Castillo who this season could be seen as having a slight advantage in that department.

At the completion of the 2008 season, Mets fans and the majority of the media decided unanimously that GM Omar Minaya should just cut his losses and send the injury-riddled second baseman on his way, the sooner the better. Even if it meant releasing him and assuring the fans that he never set foot in the Big Apple ever again, something needed to be done. Fortunately Castillo is a man who possesses a thicker skin than most and has shown that he is intelligent enough not to interpret his critic’s discontent as anything but self-motivation.

So Minaya, being the good diplomat that he is, decided to give Luis one more shot at making it in the Big City. Castillo gave his trusting general manager his word that this upcoming season things would be different. This time around, he would prove to his teammates as well as to the fans that he had the stomach to make it in this town. Since the start of this year’s spring training, Minaya has been Castillo’s biggest supporter. He has defended his everyday second baseman by citing his positive attitude and good work ethic and has allowed him to begin anew seventeen pounds lighter. Castillo then vowed that he had put all the disappointments and fat cells behind him. It was obvious that he had one goal in mind; help his team get to the World Series.

As New Yorkers, we all took what he said with a grain of salt and accepted his previous flaws with the hope that he was destined to improve this season. However, during the Mets first five games, Castillo started in just four of them. He began right where he left off by going 1 for 10 with 3 strikeouts. You could almost hear the boo-birds settling into their new home, Citi Field, preparing for his arrival. Then, out of nowhere, something clicked inside the new and improved Castillo. Perhaps it was the proximity to his native homeland or maybe it was the warm sunny skies of South Florida, but whatever it was, it allowed for a perfect 4-for-4 performance. No matter what he accomplished the next day, it would be more than enough for his detractors to warrant another look. With that offensive outburst alone he was now entitled to hang his hat within the squeaking-clean confines of his team’s new ballpark.

Which brings us to last night’s 5-4 win in walk-off fashion, the first of its kind at Citi Field, by none other than, you guessed it, Luis Castillo.

“He wanted to be in that situation, tonight,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said.

For further reading, you can check out a previous post entitled, Luis Castillo, A Fall From Grace Or Just a Bump in the Road.

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