PHILADELPHIA -- A quick search of the Phillies' clubhouse revealed that Luis Castillo had left the building in a quick manner. A period of time only slightly longer than the time Castillo spent in a Phillies uniform.
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."