Castillo powers Mets to victory

February 25, 2009 2:37:43 PM PST
Luis Castillo looked more like a cleanup hitter than a leadoff man Wednesday. In his new role atop the Mets' lineup, Castillo drove in four runs with a single and a double, and New York got three RBIs from Ryan Church to beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-3 in the exhibition opener for both teams.

Jose Reyes was New York's leadoff hitter the past few years, but manager Jerry Manuel is considering a shake-up with Castillo at the top of the lineup. Castillo struggled in 2008 with injuries and batted only .245, but he sure looked good against the Orioles.

"I've got to get off to a good start," Castillo said. "I know they want me to get off to a good start."

The second baseman hit a two-run single in the second inning and a two-run double in the fourth. Church had a run-scoring double in the third and a two-run single in the fourth.

Both starting pitchers, normally relievers, left with injuries.

Mets right-hander Sean Green exited in the first inning with a cut nail on his middle finger after Ty Wigginton gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead with a two-out single to center that scored Ryan Freel.

Baltimore right-hander Brad Hennessey was removed because of a sore elbow after loading the bases with one out in the second inning. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz visited the mound and signaled for head athletic trainer Richie Bancells.

"My forearm just started to really tighten and I couldn't get on top of the ball," Hennessey said. "My location was going south in a hurry and I was just trying to fight through it and finish the inning and muddle through it, but my elbow wouldn't let me. We're going to re-evaluate it tomorrow and go from there, but so far it looks to not be too severe."

Left-hander Chris Waters replaced Hennessey and allowed Castillo's two-run single, which gave the Mets a 2-1 lead.

Waters continued to labor in the third inning. Angel Pagan reached on an infield hit with one out and scored on Church's double.

Oscar Salazar singled with two outs in the third to score Adam Jones and reduce New York's lead to 3-2, but the Mets scored four runs against David Pauley in the fourth. Two scored when Baltimore left fielder Luke Scott broke in on Castillo's fly ball and couldn't run it down as it sailed over his head for a double.

Robby Hammock had an RBI double for the Orioles in the fourth. New York's Jeremy Reed had a run-scoring single off Brian Bass in the sixth.

Notes: Mets RHP Tim Redding, one of four pitchers vying for the final spot in the rotation, plans to throw a bullpen session Thursday to test his sore right shoulder. He is tentatively scheduled to make his first Grapefruit League appearance March 8. ... New York OF Fernando Tatis was scratched with a sore right hand that's been bothering him all week.