Castillo returns to starting lineup

Castillo returns to starting lineup

NEW YORK -- Sporting an orthopedic wrap on his left foot, Luis Castillo was back in the starting lineup on Monday, playing second base.

"I need to play," Castillo said. "I want to play. If it doesn't feel better, I don't know what we'll do."

Castillo came through for the Mets in the seventh, plating their first run with an RBI single.

An injury that has dogged him since Spring Training, the bone bruise in Castillo's left foot will not disappear overnight. More likely, it may linger for the rest of the season, even if it does not necessarily limit him on the field.

"He's had some issues with it before," manager Jerry Manuel said. "I think they have done a tremendous job in treating it. It might be one of those things that just occasionally will need rest. I don't see it as something that will hinder him from playing at the level he's playing at this point."

The orthopedic wrap should help, allowing Castillo to more comfortably put weight on the foot. Already he is playing through the pain. Sporting the wrap for the first time on Sunday, Castillo -- though still hurting -- singled in a late-game appearance against the Giants.

"Yesterday we didn't have any more options," Manuel said. "We didn't have any more players."

In 26 games this season, Castillo is batting .271 with five stolen bases. Last year he somewhat put to rest his reputation as being injury-prone, playing in 142 games. --Anthony DiComo