Luis Castillo Is a Man

Timothy O'BrienCorrespondent IJune 13, 2009

PORT SAINT LUCIE, FL - FEBRUARY 23:  Luis Castillo #1 of the New York Mets poses during photo day at Tradition Field on February 23, 2009 in Port Saint Lucie, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, Mets manager Jerry Manuel walked out mound to get Johan Santana.  Johan did not want to come out of the game.  He's a competitor and he was beating the Phillies.  I understand.

We learned after the game what he was saying to Manuel on the mound.  Johan has a saying, "I'm a man, I'm a man."

I don't know what Johan means by this; I'm sure it has meaning to him.

What I do know, is Luis Castillo is a man, and I'm proud to have him on my team.

I fully admit in the hours immediately following that dropped pop-up I was demanding Castillo's head.

My initial reaction equated the symbolism of his dropped ball against the Yankees with Tom Glavine's futility at the end of the 2007 season.  I felt then that Glavine would never be forgiven and needed to go, and he went.

Over the past 21 hours or so Luis Castillo has won me over, and I would hope other Mets fans as well.

He could have left without speaking to the media last night and the newspapermen would likely have understood.  He stood there like a man, a broken and dispirited man,  and answered questions.

You could see the anguish in his eyes and hear the isolation in his voice.

He made no excuses.  There was no lights in his eyes, no wind he couldn't overcome.  He said, "I need to catch that. I feel bad. It was a routine fly ball, and I made a mistake. I feel so bad. I have to make that play". 

He arrived at the ball park today ready to speak with the media.  Mets PR Director Jay Horowitz tried to hide Castillo from them, but Luis insisted that he speak with them. 

He expressed regret.  He also received a great deal of support from around the league and his teammates.

Today, he went out, played solid defense, even almost making a sparking play on a ground ball deep in the hole in between first and second, and got two hits.  He played well.

After the game, he once again spoke with both Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and sat down with the local beat writers. 

He never once hid from the spotlight or the blame.

In the off-season, I was leading the charge to sign Orlando Hudson.  I do not take that back.  Orlando Hudson is a more productive offensive and defensive player than Luis Castillo.

However, Castillo is our second baseman, and he's a good one.  He is a winner and I am glad he's on my team.

Luis Castillo stood up and took his punches; like a man.  For this he deserves our forgiveness and our respect.