This is not the first impression Luis Castillo needed to make.
He had nine games to earn a spot on the Phillies’ 25-man roster since signing a Minor League contract yesterday.
It’s down to eight, maybe seven.
The Phillies said yesterday morning they expected Castillo to arrive in Clearwater yesterday afternoon. When I stepped into the clubhouse this morning the Phillies had Castillo hitting second and playing second base today against the Blue Jays in Dunedin. He had a locker between Placido Polanco and Raul Ibanez. He had a number: 3. But about 30 minutes later Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin unpinned the lineup card from the bulletin board, took out some Wite-Out and and removed Castillo’s name from the lineup. He wrote Wilson Valdez‘s name in his place.
Castillo is not in camp.
He apparently could not make the journey from Miami in time, despite reaching agreement with the Phillies on Sunday night.
Interestingly, Mackanin later posted tomorrow’s lineup against the Rays in Port Charlotte. Castillo is not in that lineup, either. That does not mean he cannot play tomorrow. He could, but for the moment his name is not listed anywhere on the lineup card.
ESPN Deportes said Castillo is flying from Miami to Tampa, and could play in a Minor League game.
Luis Castillo has agreed to a Minor League contract with the Phillies, although it is not finalized, a source said tonight.
The Mets released Castillo on Friday and the Phillies immediately expressed interest. Castillo cleared waivers this afternoon.
The Minor League contract certainly suggests the Phillies are not prepared to just hand a Castillo a job. He will have to earn one, although there is not much time. Just 12 days remain before Opening Day.
If the Phillies had offered Castillo a Major League contract they would be on the hook for $414,000 of his $6 million salary, regardless of his ability to play. The Minor League deal guarantees Castillo even less money, which means if the Phillies feel Castillo cannot play they can let him go at little cost. Of course, if they decide he can help and place him on the 25-man roster they would have to pay him $414,000.
But repeat: If he cannot play the Phillies are on the hook for less than $414,000. How much less? I’m not sure, but it’s a low-risk, high-reward move the Phillies like to make. If he can play, bonus. If he can’t, buy-bye.
Brad Lidge threw roughly 35 pitches in the bullpen this morning at Bright House Field.
He has been sidelined since last Friday because of right biceps tendinitis.
“I felt really good,” he said.
Lidge said he expects to play catch tomorrow and throw another bullpen session Sunday before returning to Grapefruit League action. He said he could be in a game in three or four days.
“Getting out this little bit of tendinitis and getting back into it should be about the perfect recipe,” he said. “It feels a lot better now. I haven’t cranked it up to 100 percent yet. I threw somewhere between 80 and 90 percent. No discomfort.”
Lidge’s velocity has been down this spring. The expectation is it will return with a healthy arm.
“It’s coming,” he said. “My pop will never be there until the first game I’m closing during the regular season. It hasn’t been for however many years — five, six, seven years. I don’t expect myself to ever be close to where that is in Spring Training. It never has been. That being said, I should be able to get more on it than I’ve been getting on it the past couple outings. But if I don’t I still won’t be worried. As long as nothing is hurting me I’m going to be real happy. It’s really for me making sure that when I get out there I have good mechanics so I don’t re-aggravate the tendinitis. Assuming that goes as planned I’ll be more than ready on April 1.”
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The Phillies made seven more cuts this morning at Bright House Field, leaving 37 players remaining in camp:
- Vance Worley
- Freddy Galvis
- Brandon Moss
- Jeff Larish
- Juan Perez
- Dan Meyer
- Michael Stutes
No real surprises here. Stutes made a big showing this spring. He could be in the big leagues at some point this season, but the Phillies want to give him more seasoning in the Minor Leagues. Worley could be Triple-A Lehigh Valley’s opening day starter, so they wanted to get him stretched out.
Here is the Phillies’ pitching schedule March 19-25:
- March 19 @ Orioles: Cole Hamels, David Herndon, Scott Mathieson and Michael Stutes.
- March 20 vs. Yankees: Joe Blanton, Jose Contreras, Antonio Bastardo and Danys Baez.
- March 21 vs. Red Sox: Roy Halladay, J.C. Romero, Ryan Madson, Herndon and Mathieson.
- March 22 @ Blue Jays: Cliff Lee, Vance Worley, Kyle Kendrick, Contreras, Baez, Bastardo and Stutes.
- March 23 @ Rays: Roy Oswalt, Romero, Madson, Mathieson and Herndon.
- March 24 vs. Twins: Hamels, Bastardo, Baez and Contreras.
- March 25 vs. Braves: Blanton, Madson and Romero.
Brad Lidge, who is out with right biceps tendinitis, said he feels better, although he is not sure if he is throwing a bullpen session today or tomorrow. … Placido Polanco, who hyperextended his left elbow Tuesday, is not in today’s lineup against the Blue Jays. … Brian Schneider is away from the team for personal reasons.
Charlie Manuel has 17 days before he must fill out his Opening Day lineup card.
How will it look?
Here is a mostly educated guess:
- Jimmy Rollins, SS
- Placido Polanco, 3B
- Raul Ibanez, LF
- Ryan Howard, 1B
- Ben Francisco, RF
- Shane Victorino, CF
- Carlos Ruiz, C
- Wilson Valdez, 2B
- Roy Halladay, P
Manuel has hit Victorino second and Polanco fifth a few times this spring, so I suppose that’s a possibility. That would bump Francisco down a spot. But it seems pretty clear Ibanez is his guy to hit third … thanks to us?
“Ibanez, you guys talked me into hitting him third,” Manuel said today in Dunedin. “You were telling me what his career average is hitting third and what he hit last year third and all that.”
Life would be easier for Manuel if he had Chase Utley healthy, but he’s not. That means Manuel has to find new No. 3 and 5 hitters to open the season. Manuel said he isn’t sure how important those spots are to Ryan Howard‘s success in 2011.
“How much? I don’t know,” he said. “The more patient Ryan gets the more balls he’s going to get to hit. I think that’s the key to what kind of year he has.”
Placido Polanco left today’s Grapefruit League game against the Toronto Blue Jays because of a hyperextended left elbow. He had surgery on the same elbow Oct. 29 to remove bone fragments and repair the extensor tendon.
“It’s right where I had the surgery, but it’s nothing bad,” he said. “I’ve had it before. I’ve had it a million times. But the fact that I had surgery in that elbow, we’re being safe. We’re playing it very safe. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow and the next day, take it a day at a time.”
Polanco is uncertain when he could return to Grapefruit League games.
“It’s just a day to day thing I think,” he said. “When I’ve had it before, I never stopped playing. But since I had surgery, they took me out.”
The Phillies already are without second baseman Chase Utley, who is sidelined indefinitely with right knee pain. They cannot afford to lose Polanco, too.
“I’m not worried about mine, because I know how I feel,” Polanco said. “Talking to the trainers and the doctor, it seems like I’m going to be back soon. Chase is the one that worries me, but he seems to be getting better slowly but surely.”
I’m off today, but MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez is in Kissimmee and filed this update on Brad Lidge:
Lidge was scheduled to be on the bus today to play the Astros, but remained in Clearwater because of tendinitis in his right bicep. Rich Dubee said it is the usual issues of Spring Training and didn’t sound too concerned.
He said he’s unsure if Lidge will pitch in Thursday’s “B” game, but added that he’s still on track to be ready by Opening Day.
“He generally has it in the spring,” Dubee said. “It’s nothing that he doesn’t go through.”
While there’s no timetable for Lidge’s return to the mound, Dubee said that doesn’t necessarily throw him off track because the right-hander “already got more innings than he usually has in the spring.” Lidge has made five one-inning Grapefruit League appearances this spring, giving up five runs in the process (a 9.00 ERA).
Dubee said Lidge’s arm strength isn’t where it needs to be. For now Lidge will get a couple days of rest and see how he feels.
The Phillies said this morning Chase Utley has made a small improvement in his rehab.
Is this good news?
“These are kind of baby steps,” Ruben Amaro Jr. cautioned. “I can’t sit here and say this is a giant step forward or he’s going to be ready for Opening Day or anything like that. We’re comfortable with the path. It may take a while. We’ll see if he continues to show progression. Hopefully he will.”
Utley is sidelined indefinitely with patellar tendinitis, chondromalacia and bone inflammation in his right knee. The Phillies have consulted several doctors outside the organization, and Amaro said the Phillies are comfortable with the treatments and progressions Utley is making in Spring Training.
Amaro said Utley has been able to do more exercises than he had in the recent past.