It will go down as one of the stranger late-spring experiments in recent memory. The Phillies bucked the conventional wisdom amongst scouts and other baseball people in signing Luis Castillo to audition for their vacancy at second base, then cut him loose a week later, shortly after the veteran infielder went 2-for-4 with an RBI, two runs and a stolen base in an exhibition game against the Pirates.
High Cheese correspondent Marcus Hayes asked general manager Ruben Amaro Jr, what, exactly, Castillo could have shown that would have won him a spot on the team.
"I'm not going to get into that," the GM responded (More from Amaro here).
In the end, the Phillies lost nothing by giving Castillo a chance. They had signed him to a minor league deal without any guaranteed money, so his release today came with no financial ramifications.
They signed, they saw, they decided. No harm, no foul.
The question now: who gets the final spot on the Phillies' bench?
Rule 5 pick Michael Martinez looks to have a spot locked up. The Phillies love his defense and versatility, and manager Charlie Manuel has spoken glowingly about him in recent days. In fact, Martinez could see time with Wilson Valdez at second base.
"Wilson and Martinez are both going to play some there," Manuel said.
That leaves one vacancy on the bench to join Martinez, Ross Gload, Brian Schneider and John Mayberry Jr.
Unless the Phillies make a last-minute addition from the outside, the two candidates are Delwyn Young and Pete Orr. Young would make a lot of sense because of his experience in the type of role he will be asked to fill. He has significant pinch-hitting experience and carries a .270 batting average in those situations. But he isn't regarded as a good defender or base-runner, two facets of the game where Orr is clearly superior.
Impressive 24-year-old reliever Michael Stutes continued to give the Phillies a hard time cutting him, striking out three big league players in the ninth inning last night against the Pirates. Stutes walked one, but fanned Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen.
Stutes still sounds like he is in the picture for the Opening Day roster, but the Phillies have also seen lefty Antonio Bastardo and righty David Herndon pitch well this spring. Both of those players have more experience than Stutes.
"Stutes is definitely going to pitch in the big leagues," Manuel said. "It's just a matter of time, whether it's the beginning of this season or not."
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