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Reyes' injury an opportunity for Castillo, Tejada

The New York Mets' Luis Castillo at second

The New York Mets' Luis Castillo at second base while playing the Florida Marlins in the bottom of the second inning. (Aug. 26, 2010) Credit: J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Luis Castillo got a rare start last night and was hoping to turn it into something of a regular occurrence.

Ruben Tejada, in a 1-for-41 slide, was given the night off, hopefully to clear his head so he could come back with a fresher approach.

Both of the Mets who play second base will be getting plenty of playing time from now on. Jose Reyes' re-injury of his oblique muscle means Castillo, who had started only once in the past week, will return to his everyday spot at second and most likely be batting second behind Angel Pagan until Reyes returns.

Tejada, the 20-year-old rookie whom the Mets wanted to give a longer look at down the stretch, will fill in at shortstop for Reyes and seemingly not get any sort of breather to try and fix his batting slump.

"An opportunity - that's all I need," Castillo said before the game.

He lamented that after he came on in the eighth inning Tuesday night and won the game with a bloop single in the ninth, he didn't start Wednesday.

"I want to show people I can still play," said Castillo, who was 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored last night.

Castillo admitted that he also wants to play to get a chance to be picked up by another team on waivers. But with only a few days until the Aug. 31 deadline for acquired players to be eligible for postseason play, and with another year on his contract, that seems highly unlikely.

"If you don't play, it's hard, too," he said of being seen. "I'm not making the decisions."

The decision on Tejada last night was an easy one: If Jerry Manuel wanted to not have a couple of automatic outs at the bottom of the order, he had to sit Tejada, who came in hitting .167.

"With the struggles that he's had, we've got to give him a little break," Manuel said.

The break lasted about 25 minutes. Tejada trotted out to pinch run for Reyes in the second inning and took Reyes' spot at shortstop after that.

The rookie appeared to beat out a chopper on the infield grass with the bases loaded and two outs in the third but was called out by first-base umpire Bill Miller. Tejada also walked and bounced to third, dropping his average to .164.

"It's a long year, it's the big leagues. It can get difficult," Manuel said. "When we're struggling offensively to the degree we are, we have to go with the guy that gives us a chance to win games."

For now, that means both Tejada and Castillo in the lineup.

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