Phillies puzzled by no-show Luis Castillo
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- His name was on the lineup card. His locker had his name over it. His uniform hung on a rack. But as Tuesday morning was about to turn into Tuesday afternoon, there was no sign of newly signed Luis Castillo in the Philadelphia Phillies' spring-training camp.
And while manager Charlie Manuel professed publicly that he was "not disappointed", Phillies officials clearly were confused, and at least mildly frustrated, by Castillo's absence.
Castillo agreed to a minor league contract with the Phillies on Monday morning, and had been expected to arrive in Clearwater by Monday night. The team made a hotel reservation for him and wasn't aware he was still home in South Florida until ESPNDeportes.com's Enrique Rojas reported that Castillo wasn't leaving for Clearwater until Tuesday morning.
A source told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney that Castillo was delayed by a personal matter. But Manuel said he wasn't told why Castillo was delayed.
"They told me he'd be here today, so I put him in the lineup," Manuel said. "The reason I put him in the lineup was, I wanted to see him play. Maybe I should wait to put up my lineup till game time."
But after learning that Castillo wasn't in Clearwater, Manuel scratched his name off the card. And when the Phillies posted their lineup for Wednesday's game against Tampa Bay in Port Charlotte, Castillo wasn't listed on that card, either. Manuel said the reason for that was that the 35-year-old second baseman is now scheduled to take a physical in the morning.
Asked if he was disappointed by Castillo's absence, Manuel replied: "I don't get disappointed. I'm not disappointed. Not at all."
But when asked if he'd have been in Clearwater by now if it were him, Manuel smiled and said: "If it was me? I'd have been here two days ago. But it's not me."
The manager then reiterated, however, that "I ain't upset about it or nothing, really. When he gets here, we'll suit him up and see what he can do."
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. attributed Castillo's absence to a "miscommunication" between Castillo and his agents, Sam and Seth Levinson.
Amaro said he was "surprised and confused" by Castillo's absence initially, "but I don't see it as a big deal, because it's not."
"It just means one less day of us not being able to put our eyes on him," he said. "But hopefully, we're smart enough that we can evaluate him in one less day."
Amaro said it's now expected that Castillo will complete his physical in time to play Wednesday.
"It's a minor league deal," he said, "so it's not the same sort of physical as a major league deal. We just want to make sure he's OK."
But Castillo now has only six exhibition games remaining before his new team breaks camp next Monday. And the Phillies are in wait-and-see mode before they commit to him as a potential replacement for Chase Utley, whose return from knee trouble could be weeks or months away.
The Phillies were reluctant to guarantee Castillo money or playing time before seeing him play firsthand. And even if he makes the team, they would be responsible only for the major league minimum salary of $414,500. The Mets, who released him last week, are on the hook for the rest of the $6 million Castillo is owed in 2011.
Senior writer Jayson Stark covers Major League Baseball for ESPN.com.