03/30/11 8:15 PM ET
Castillo released by Phillies
By Michael Radano / Special to MLB.com
Three hours before the final exhibition game of the spring, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. announced that after just over a week with the club, Castillo had been released. Castillo, who had been released by the New York Mets on March 18, was seen as a possible replacement for Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, who will begin the season on the disabled list with a knee injury.
From the start, however, it did not seem a good fit, as Castillo showed up late to the Phillies' Spring Training complex in Clearwater -- and then struggled offensively, despite plenty of chances. The thought from most observers when Castillo was released by the Mets was his career was all but over. But the Phillies decided that, for minimal cost, it wouldn't hurt to give the veteran second baseman a chance. On Wednesday, that opportunity for Castillo came to an end.
"It's more of a testament to the people that are here and the job that they've done so far this spring, and what we think they can bring to the table," Amaro said. "We haven't made the final decisions, and we'll let you know once we do. But we're pretty comfortable with the people that we have right now in-house, and we're comfortable moving forward with them on our Major League roster."
Obviously, the key to keeping Castillo was could he play the field at a high enough level over what he could do at the plate. On Tuesday night, the 35-year-old did more than enough at the plate -- as he went 2-for-4 with an RBI, two runs scored, and even stole a base for good measure. But the Phillies instead appear to be heading into the season opener on Friday against Houston at Citizens Bank Park with a combination of Wilson Valdez -- who earned a spot on this team with strong play a season ago when he filled in for both Utley and Jimmy Rollins -- and Rule 5 pickup Michael Martinez, both of whom can play multiple positions -- including the outfield.
"Basically, we had a short time in Spring Training to watch [Castillo]," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "We have a couple of guys that were there the whole way that we really like.
"He's in good shape. Last night, he played a pretty good game. As far as the way our team lines up ... the fact that Valdez played such a big role on our team last year and can play multiple positions, [plus] Martinez has been very intriguing in Spring Training ... we have options. And we are planning on getting Utley back."
Martinez's way paved by Castillo's departure
PHILADELPHIA -- The departure of Luis Castillo opened the door for Rule 5 pickup Michael Martinez.
"I was told when I came to Spring Training that I was going to be working in the infield and outfield, so I felt that if I didn't have a shot to make it in the infield, there was always a shot to make it as an outfielder," Martinez said. "I was a little bit surprised that I got picked in the Rule 5 Draft by the Phillies, a team with a lot of tradition of winning. I was happy that I was going to get an opportunity to wear the Phillies uniform.
"I [knew] that once I made the club, I [would] need to contribute -- and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to help."
One thing is for sure, Martinez has a fan in manager Charlie Manuel, who loves the versatility he brings to the field.
"I think Martinez, if you watch him, he's a really interesting guy because he is talented. He can run, he can throw, he's got a tremendous arm," Manuel said. "He's got great agility. He's a tremendous -- he's acrobatic. I think his hitting is better than you might think, too.
"He doesn't have the experience at the Major League level, yet. But he has the talent to be a good big league player."
Pete Orr beat out Delwyn Young for the final roster spot. Young was reassigned to Minor League camp. ... The Phillies unveiled a $10 million upgrade to their scoreboard at Citizens Bank Park. And while it certainly will take some getting used to, it seems to be a success. The high-definition display measures 76-feet high, 97-feet wide -- totaling 7,372 square feet. The Phillies partnered with Sony Electronics' System Solutions Group and Daktronics to upgrade the scoreboard in left field, which includes Daktronics' HD-15 video display. The board is filled with statistics, including newer statistical revelations such as WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) and OBP (on-base percentage). The clarity of the HD screen has drawn raves from the fans who have seen it after just two games. ... Second baseman Chase Utley, who will open the season on the disabled list due to an injured knee, spent several innings on the concourse taking pictures with fans. Suffice it to say that won't happen come Friday. ... Cole Hamels worked just three innings and deemed himself ready for the start of the season. "I think my location was good, and I really on missed on two pitches," said Hamels, who allowed two runs on three hits. "Obviously, those two pitches were a double and a home run, but that's all in the past, now." ... Jimmy Rollins will hit third on Opening Day -- just the third time in his career he won't be the first Phillie to the plate to start the season. In 2004, Marlon Byrd handled leadoff duties, while Rollins hit seventh; and in 2001, he hit second behind Doug Glanville.
Michael Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.