Castillo activated, freshens up Mets' lineup

Castillo activated, freshens up Mets' lineup

PHOENIX -- With Luis Castillo's activation from the disabled list Monday, the final puzzle piece clicked into place for the Mets. For the first time in over a year, their lineup was complete.

That much was made possible by Castillo, who officially returned to the active roster Monday following a six-week DL stint with a bruised right heel. Castillo, who played second base Monday and batted eighth, wore orthotic inserts in both shoes.

"When I went on the DL, I thought it would take like two weeks and that would make me feel better," said Castillo, whose troubles with his left foot ultimately affected his right one. "I had to take the time when I had to take it. I feel good right now. That's why I'm here."

To make room for Castillo, the Mets optioned infielder Ruben Tejada to Triple-A Buffalo. Because they envision Tejada as an everyday player, the Mets prefer for him to receive consistent at-bats in the Minors rather than sporadic ones in the Majors.

Tejada hit .212 in 104 at-bats with the Mets, providing strong defense at both shortstop and second base.

He was, however, just a fill-in. Castillo is a regular. So is shortstop Jose Reyes, who was back in Monday's lineup after missing the last five games with a strained right oblique. And so is center fielder Carlos Beltran, also back in Monday's lineup after a routine off-day Sunday.

Castillo, Reyes, Beltran and third baseman David Wright had not all been in the same lineup since May 20, 2009. The Mets had not fielded a full lineup of first-string players since April 13, 2009.

And so Monday, for the first time in more than 15 months, they were complete.

"The tough thing is that it's July and they're just getting on the field," manager Jerry Manuel said. "I know they're all going to have some adjustments to make, but I think the good thing is that for the most part, they should be fresh. They should be hungry to play. You're just like anybody else, you're kind of anxious to see how that looks."