Baseball Notebook

Mets cut Castillo, will pay him $6m in salary

Associated Press / March 19, 2011

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The Mets released second baseman Luis Castillo yesterday despite still owing him $6 million, cutting ties with a three-time All-Star linked to one of the most painful plays in team history.

Mets fans never forgave him for dropping a potential game-ending popup by Alex Rodriguez in 2009, a misplay that let the Yankees score two runs to win in the bottom of the ninth inning. Castillo was booed — a rarity in spring training — this week after he was slow to cover first base during an exhibition game.

Castillo, 35, had lost a lot of range in recent years. The switch-hitter was among five candidates for the second base job.

Castillo was preparing for the final season of a four-year, $24 million contract. He batted .235 with no homers, only 6 extra-base hits, and 17 RBIs in 247 at-bats last season while losing his starting spot.

Yankees take a hit Yankees starter A.J. Burnett was struck just below his right hip by a line drive in the first inning, but he remained in the game and gave up four runs — two earned — and five hits in four innings of a 6-5 loss to the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla.

Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner left in the third inning after being thrown out at the plate. Gardner fouled a ball off his right shin in Thursday night’s game, and was not running at full speed. “I’m not worried about it,’’ he said. “Just a little swollen.’’

Toronto starter Brandon Morrow worked five shutout innings, giving up three hits.

Shields retires Scot Shields retired after a 10-year career with the Angels spent mostly as the primary setup man during the team’s period of dominance in the AL West. Shields, 35, was a free agent after two injury-plagued seasons . . . Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake might start the season on the disabled list after hurting his back Saturday while trying to beat out a bunt . . . Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (right knee) returned to camp after visiting a specialist. Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock did not offer an update on how Utley is progressing with his rehab. The All-Star has not played in any games this spring . . . Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore passed another test in his recovery from knee surgery by sliding. He is scheduled to play tomorrow as the DH.

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