PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - When Luis Castillo does arrive in camp, it might help for him to have a good explanation. Saturday, the day after manager Terry Collins wondered aloud why Castillo hadn't made an effort to beat the mandatory reporting date, the second baseman still chose to stay away from Digital Domain Park despite telling Collins he would be in.

Castillo just has to be within the town limits and let the Mets know he's around until Sunday, when position players are due for their physicals. So Castillo hasn't violated any rules yet. But he also is not helping his case with the manager, who would like to sit down with Castillo as soon as possible to discuss his mind-set at the start of spring training.

Right now, Collins can only surmise that Castillo's mind-set must not be very good, or that he's just not very interested in impressing the new manager. That's a questionable strategy for someone trying to win a job. It sounds more like a player who would prefer to be released, which the Mets would be willing to do if Castillo, despite a $6-million salary, wants out.

When Collins was asked Saturday if he had talked to Castillo as expected, the manager rolled his eyes and replied, "You guys seen him yet?" He stood by his comments Friday, when Collins said he hoped that Castillo would show up early.

"I'll stick by it," Collins said. "I'm sure he's getting all the ground balls he needed. I just want to see it, that's all. He was unhappy with the way things ended last year. He's expressed that to me. That's why I thought it would be good if he got here so we can sit down and clear the air."



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