Pirates Notebook: Castillo would welcome starting duty ... anywhere
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Peter Diana, Post-Gazette
Pirates manager Jim Tracy smiles as he is introduced before the home opener yesterday at PNC Park.
ALTOONA (0-1) lost at Akron, 6-1. LHP Josh Shortslef (0-1, 4.50) allowed three runs, two earned, in four innings. He struck out eight and walked one. CF Andrew McCutchen (.000) and 3B Neil Walker (.000) each went hitless in four plate appearances, McCutchen drawing a walk.
LYNCHBURG (2-2) beat Frederick, 13-1. LHP Kyle Bloom (1-0, 0.00) pitched seven shutout innings and allowed three hits. 2B Shelby Ford (.294) doubled twice in five at-bats and had four RBIs. RF Brad Corley (.286) went 2 for 4 with three RBIs.
HICKORY (4-1) beat Delmarva, 13-8. RHP Mike Crotta (0-0, 1.80) allowed four runs, one earned, in five innings. RF Jonel Pacheco (.211) went 3 for 5 with his first home run, five RBIs and a steal. SS Angel Gonzalez (.318) went 2 for 3 with his first home run, a walk and two RBIs. DH Jamie Romak (.375) went 2 for 5 with three RBIs.
, despite being clearly dissatisfied with his new role on the bench after three years of starting, said he has no plan to ask the Pirates for a trade.
At the same time, he did not sound yesterday as if he would be troubled if that were to happen.
"I'm not going to say anything. I'll wait my turn," Castillo said. "But there are 29 other teams watching me. They watched me for three years. They know what I can do."
Castillo, 26, was the second baseman on opening day in Houston and for the first five games of the six-game road trip. On Sunday, Freddy Sanchez came off the disabled list and took that spot, and Castillo has not appeared in either game since then.
Moreover, he is left with pretty much nowhere to play.
Jose Bautista was management's choice at third base out of spring training despite performing well below Castillo's level, but Bautista's strong early showing -- especially defensively -- seems to have cemented his status. Don Kelly is management's choice as backup shortstop, which makes him the primary backup infielder. Outfield does not seem to be an option, either, even though Castillo plays there each winter in his native Venezuela.
Castillo's preference is to play second base, but his stated priority is simply to play.
"I need to play every day, you know? I'm 26 years old. Since I signed my first professional contract with this team in 1998, I played every day. I don't know what happened. I don't understand. It's hard."
And how often does he expect to play now?
"I'm waiting for a chance. I don't care when. I'll sit here for seven days, and I'll play on the eighth day."
The Pirates are known to have tried to trade Castillo in the offseason, but the takers, they maintain, were few.
St. Louis stole two bases without throws yesterday, continuing a disturbing trend for the Pirates that took center stage Saturday in Cincinnati, where they allowed five steals that went uncontested by their pitchers or catchers.
In this one, catcher Ronny Paulino failed to transfer the ball from his mitt to his hand when Adam Kennedy stole in the fourth, then could not corral an Ian Snell pitch in the dirt when David Eckstein stole in the next inning.
Manager Jim Tracy blamed the cold, here and in Cincinnati.
"It affects the fielders," Tracy said. "And with catchers, it's not always easy to find the ball."
The only caught stealing came in the sixth when Jim Edmonds -- perhaps aware of the Pirates' troubles -- surprisingly tried to take third with one out. The out call drew a mock cheer from the crowd.
Bradenton injury update
John Grabow pitched a simulated game yesterday at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla., and reported no trouble with his elbow.
"Everything feels good," Grabow said afterward.
Next step is appearing in an extended spring training game tomorrow. Then, he could begin a Class AAA rehabilitation stint with Indianapolis.
Another injured reliever in Bradenton, Masumi Kuwata, is walking with just one crutch to aid his sprained ankle.
In an odd scene, home plate umpire Sam Holbrook ordered the batter's box to be redrawn before the third inning after St. Louis' Albert Pujols correctly noticed it was not deep enough.
Former Pirates starter Kip Wells was roundly booed in the Cardinals' pregame introductions.
Broadcaster Lanny Frattare was recognized with the Pride of the Pirates Award before the game.
The Pirates are 70-51 in home openers, 2-5 at PNC Park.
First Published April 9, 2007 11:10 pm