Castillo aims to please in Houston
Eager for fresh start, new Astros infielder willing to play outfield
NEW YORK -- Around the grapevine, Cecil Cooper had heard about infielder Jose Castillo's glove, his arm and his good nature. What he didn't know was how much the Astros' new addition would be willing to undertake.
Upon joining the team in New York for Friday's game against the Mets, Castillo approached the Astros' manager to discuss his role. Second base, third base and shortstop are all within his spectrum, but there's more?
"Well, I play outfield, too," Cooper remembers hearing.
"OK," Cooper replied, unaware of Castillo's extra versatility. "We'll see."
Picked up off waivers from San Francisco on Wednesday, the 27-year-old Castillo shined through his braced teeth as he spoke about his next opportunity in Houston. His role with the Astros is yet to be defined, but Cooper has a few ideas.
The initial plan is to use Castillo in double-switch situations before a potential start at second base Sunday against the Mets. Then, after the Astros head home, Cooper said he hopes to find time for Castillo to spell Miguel Tejada at shortstop in an afternoon game, which could possibly come Thursday.
And, once he circumferences much of the infield, Castillo will have a chance to work with coaches on his outfield skills.
"I don't know what my role is right now. I am ready for anything," Castillo said. "If they need me, at whatever position, I don't care."
Castillo, who is batting .244 with 35 RBIs this season, played a majority of his time at third base with the Giants, with 95 of his 96 starts at that position. But he entered one game at shortstop and eight at second base.
Playing time and a definite position means little to Castillo, who was exuberant when shaking the hands of his new teammates in Shea Stadium's visiting clubhouse. It's refreshing to move from the second-to-last-place Giants to a team that's at least above .500, but that's not most important to Castillo.
After playing his last game with the Giants -- ironically against the Astros -- Castillo finished a 10-game stretch batting 4-for-38 (.105). A chance at a fresh start has Castillo eager to please.
"I like it here, and it is much more important for me as a baseball player to play good ball. That would be good for me," Castillo said. "I am coming in here, working hard -- 100 percent, 200 percent. I am working."
Jon Blau is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.