PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Could it be strike one for Luis Castillo?
Most managers might wait to get settled in before questioning players, but on Friday, Terry Collins had no problem saying how he felt about Castillo's waiting until the last possible minute before showing up at spring training.
Saturday is the official reporting date for position players, but plenty of established players such as David Wright, Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan already have been working at the complex. Castillo knows there is a competition for the second-base job, and Collins was disappointed that he didn't come in early. The manager is anxious to make sure they're on the same page by the time full-squad workouts begin Monday.
"I was hoping he would be here, just so I could get the conversation over," Collins said. "I'm a real believer in sending a message to the organization as a player. I thought Johan Santana did that [Thursday]. I thought he sent a message to everybody on the team that 'I'm behind you.' "
Of course, neither Carlos Beltran nor Jason Bay planned to be in camp early, and they had their own issues last season. Still, Collins would have liked to see something extra from Castillo.
When asked if his absence will hurt Castillo in the second-base scrum, Collins said no, but he couldn't be as certain when someone suggested that Castillo could be sending some kind of "message" by waiting.
"I don't know," Collins said. "I don't know until I talk to him."
As promised, Collins used an air horn to keep his players moving between fields. The manager thought there was too much "standing around" on Day One . . . Pagan said he worked out with Carlos Delgado during the winter and was impressed with his baseball condition. Pagan added that Delgado might try to make a comeback this season when he feels 100 percent ready.