Can Castillo overcome blunder?

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To understand the severity of Friday night’s costly drop by Luis
Castillo, one must first remember that he entered 2009 as one of the
more unpopular players on the roster. With his patient, sometimes
passive approach at the plate, Castillo became the perfect whipping-boy
for frustrated Mets fans, as he batted just .245/.355/.305 in the first
year of a truly awful four-year, $25 million contract. Out of shape and
hobbled by a bad hip, Castillo appeared in just 87 games, and was at
his worst down the stretch, batting just .111 in another lost
September.

After the season, Mets fans were ready to see him leave town,
much like Scott Schoeneweis and Aaron Heilman were shown the door,
however his big contract was largely undesirable around baseball. In
November, Castillo had a meeting with team brass, insisting that he
would rededicate himself to getting back in shape. And true to his
word, he reported to Spring Training at 193 pounds, down from 210 last
spring.

This season, Castillo has again been a pretty marginal
player at best, batting .277/.376/.335 with 14 RBI and seven steals in
173 at-bats. According to FanGraphs,
he has a 0.3 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) and 3.0 (Runs Above
Replacement). Still, Castillo has a walkoff-hit to his credit and with
the unusual amount of injuries for the team, he’s pretty much been
given a reprieve from the fans. Until Friday night. Against the
Yankees, of all teams. Only a drop against the Phillies could be any
worse.

The Mets have no choice but to keep running him back out
there, as awful as it was. I mean, who else is left to even play second
base? Jerry Manuel knows he can’t hide either. That’s why he’s batting
him leadoff today.

Travis d’Arnaud’s position in Wednesday’s box score read “3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B-3B-2B”

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The Mets had to scratch both Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores an hour before Wednesday’s game against the Yankees due to ribcage injuries, so Travis d'Arnaud — normally a catcher — borrowed David Wright‘s glove and played third base for the first time in his career. He had played some third base in spring training, but as far as an official professional game goes, he’s never been there.

The first two batters the Yankees sent up to the plate in the first inning were left-handed. But when the right-handed Aaron Judge came up, manager Terry Collins swapped second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera with d’Arnaud. It became a thing. The two swapped once more in the first inning, three times in the second, once in the third, five times in the fourth, once in the fifth, three times in the sixth, four times in the seventh, once in the eighth, and twice in the ninth. It worked, as d’Arnaud didn’t have an opportunity to make a play until catching Todd Frazier‘s pop-up for the first out of the ninth inning — as a second baseman. Cabrera had a handful of opportunities, including immediately after having swapped with d’Arnaud.

The Mets lost 5-3. At the plate, d’Arnaud went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly. Cabrera was 1-for-4.

Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini are being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas so the Mets don’t have to do the “3B-2B shenanigans,” as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo put it, again.

John Lackey stole the first base of his career

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Cubs starter John Lackey stole the first base of his 15-year career on Wednesday against the Reds. Of course, he spent the first 11 and a half years of his career in the American League, where opportunities to bat, let alone attempt to steal a base, were rare. Lackey entered Wednesday having taken 250 plate appearances, reaching base just 31 times on 17 singles, seven doubles, and seven walks for a .134 on-base percentage. One can imagine the 38-year-old is not exactly the swiftest base runner.

Still, Lackey managed to swipe a bag in the fourth inning. He singled with two outs against Homer Bailey. Then, with an 0-1 count on Ben Zobrist, Lackey broke for second even before Bailey began his windup. Tucker Barnhart stood up to alert Bailey that Lackey was running, so Bailey wheeled around and threw to second base, but Lackey slid into the bag easily safe. It wasn’t a pretty slide, but it did the job.

Lackey, however, was picked off of second base by Barnhart later that inning. Bailey threw a 3-2 fastball wide of the strike zone, walking Zobrist. Lackey had wandered too far off of second base, so Barnhart threw behind Lackey and the tag was applied by Zack Cozart. Lackey was called safe initially. The play was reviewed and the ruling on the field was overturned, ending the fourth inning.

Base Ba’al giveth and Base Ba’al taketh away.