Castillo arrives, talks of opportunity

Luis Castillo joined the Phillies in Clearwater today, after an unexpected delay. (Jeff Roberson/AP file photo)

Luis Castillo arrived at Bright House Field around 1 p.m., several hours later than the Phillies initially expected him, but intent on keeping his focus on the opportunity at hand.

The second baseman, signed to a minor league deal on Sunday night, will compete with former Mets teammate Wilson Valdez to fill the void left by Chase Utley's balky knee, and with players like Josh Barfield, John Mayberry Jr., Michael Martinez, Pete Orr and Delwyn Young for a spot on the bench.

Castillo blamed his late arrival on a "mis-communication between me and my agents," which is the same thing Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters. The Phillies expected the second baseman to arrive in time to play against Toronto today, one of nine games the team has left before it opens the regular season on April 1.

"More importantly, I'm here, and I'm excited to be here," Castillo said. "I'm healthy. I feel good. I'm ready. I'm here to play baseball and help this team win some games."

Asked what the Phillies told him about the opportunity he will get here, Castillo responded, "Right now, I know Valdez is doing a good job and Utley is hurt right now. I'm trying to find a job here. I want to compete and I want to win the job. I want to play. I have 10 days to prove and try to get ready."

Castillo hasn't seen live pitching in a week, but said he has been staying sharp by taking batting practice.

On his image problem with the fans in New York, Castillo said, "It's hard. It's New York. You know how it is in New York. . .I want to be focused and play baseball. I don't want to focus on the fans and the media. I want to focus on baseball and show people I can still play."

Is he bothered by the fact that a lot of scouts who have watched him play say he has lost a lot of foot speed and defensive range?

"It bothers me a little bit, but that's a chance I have here," he said. "I have an opportunity to show I can still play. That's why I'm here, and that's what I want to do."

How much did a foot injury affect him last year?

"A lot," he said. "I lost almost two months. When you get hurt, it's hard to play baseball. But I want to forget about everything that happened in the last year in New York and focus on this year.

"I feel like I'm starting to play baseball again, like I'm a rookie. I know a lot of stuff is coming out. All of this is in the past. I want an opportunity to play and I want an opportunity here."

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