07/09/08 9:04 PM ET
Easley has no designs on starting job
Utilityman says Castillo need not look over his shoulder
By Jon Blau / MLB.com
At 38 years old and in his 17th season in the league, Easley wants only to get one thing straightened out.
"I'm just trying to get my name off that list," said Easley, one of a select group of players to have never made the playoffs.
Never -- not with the Angels, Tigers, Marlins, Diamondbacks, Mets and the team formerly known as the Devil Rays -- has Easley seen the postseason. And that's his objective right now, because unless Castillo comes back and the lineup has Easley's name in it, Easley said, the starting job isn't his to have.
Though he's was in the middle of a 10-game hitting streak before the start of Wednesday's contest, Easley knows that certain other numbers favor Castillo.
"They signed the man to a four-year contract to be the second baseman," said Easley, who is of the belief that Castillo has ample job security. "Why would I think otherwise?"
But manager Jerry Manuel continued to hint that Easley could have the job if he performs well enough and if his body can handle the extra stress.
In an effort toward keeping his legs fresh before every game, Easley said, he isn't hitting the weight room as hard.
Easley has also had the benefit of playing just one position. He has often rotated between second base, first base and the corner outfield positions because of the Mets' various injury situations. Now he's focusing on the pitches at hand instead of fighting instinct and trying to field his latest position.
And even if the second-base job isn't open after the All-Star break, when Castillo would first be available to return from the disabled list, Manuel reiterated that every player should still approach the game as if there is a position open.
As of Wednesday, the Mets had no update on Castillo's nagging left hip, left quad and right knee.
"We'll have to go with the combination that is winning games," Manuel said. "They all feel, to a man, that they can do this every day. We have to promote and encourage that as well."
Jon Blau is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.