Luis Castillo Comes to Camp in Shape...

Dominick DiFucciAnalyst IFebruary 19, 2009

Luis Castillo, the most hated player by Mets fans, came in great shape to spring training. He lost 17 pounds compared to when he came into spring training last year.

Castillo is trying to take advantage of a situation where the Mets could not trade him this winter. Many have discussed the possibility of signing free agent Orlando Hudson, but the Mets could not do that because Castillo is still in the mist of getting nearly $18 Million over the next three seasons. The Mets could not afford both...

Now Castillo who has vowed himself to play better and be healthier and trying to be the player that Omar Minaya thought he had last year when he signed him to a four year deal.

According to Howard Johnson, the Mets batting coach, he has seen a big difference in his approach. Castillo has been hitting the ball with more authority.

"He has more life in his body," Johnson said. "He looks younger. I think the knee last year really hurt him as far as his preparation. What happened with him is there wasn't any way to get on track last year. He was playing catch-up and that's a dangerous place to be when baseball season starts because there's no letup."

Castillo only played 84 games last year and was bothered by knee and hip problems. Castillo, a shell of his All-Star self, struggled to field his position and was lost at the plate, hitting a career-low .245. The Mets fans at Shea continued to boo him near the end of the season, and it had some effect on him.

"That was the first time I got booed and it was hard for me," Castillo said.

Castillo returned to the Dominican Republic, he worked with Rafael Landestoy at the team's baseball academy. Castillo said his daily workouts lasted about four-and-a-half hours, and without any issues, he arrived here with a peace of mind, too.

Now that he is healthy, he has this year plus the next two seasons after that to make everyone love him again. Will it happen? Who knows, but at least coming into shape makes it a little bit better...