Luis Castillo is exactly what the Mets needed.
Since coming to the club in a trade from Minnesota, the second baseman has joined forces with shortstop Jose Reyes to spark the offense as well as the defense. Castillo is also having fun, often celebrating with Reyes with fist pumps or some other move.
"That's me -- I like to win," Castillo told Newsday. "When we won the World Series (with the Florida Marlins), that was the greatest feeling. That's why I want that again. I have 10 years in the big leagues, and for me it's not about the numbers anymore or how much more money I can make. I want to win and we have the team to do it."
While Castillo may not worry about the numbers, he is putting up some good ones with the Mets. In his first 18 games with the team, he is hitting .324 (23-for-71) with a .377 on-base percentage and 13 runs. But his attitude on the field has been just as important as his production.
"He loves to win, bro," Reyes said. "He brings a lot of energy. When he makes an out, he gets fired up. He gets mad. There's no doubt he's one of the best second baseman in the game. You see that double play on Friday?"
Teammate Billy Wagner has also been impressed with Castillo's desire to do whatever it takes to get that win.
"He's the most competitive person I've ever played with," Billy Wagner said.
Getting lost in your old stadium: The Dodgers' road trip to Philadelphia meant a return home for Mike Lieberthal and Randy Wolf. Both veterans claimed they got lost trying to find the visitors' clubhouse in the stadium they used to call home.
"I've never been on this side, never seen this clubhouse," Lieberthal told the Los Angeles Times. "It's nice over here. It's just different to be here, not there."
Wolf echoed Lieberthal's thoughts.
"It's really weird," Wolf said. "Seeing all the guys by the parking lot. Seeing the guys that work here. The door guy at the [Phillies'] clubhouse. [I] gave him a hug and then, 'All right, we'll see you later.'
"You spend a lot of time with an organization you get to know a lot of good people. And it is strange when you come back and you're on the visiting club."
Anderson gets 10 RBIs and his first curtain call: Garret Anderson may not have had a typical season but he turned in a record-setting performance Tuesday night. Anderson established an Angels record by driving in 10 runs in the club's 18-9 victory over the Yankees.
The result was the first curtain call of his long career.
"You have to earn" curtain calls, Anderson told the Los Angeles Times. "I guess I haven't earned them before."
Anderson figures it will be the only time in his career he gets called out of the dugout.
"Probably not another one. It took 13 years for me to get that one. I can't see myself playing until 26 years," he said.
Guillen draws Baylor comparison: Two hard slides by Jose Guillen helped lead the Mariners to a 7-2 win over the Twins Tuesday night.
"Every little thing in this game counts," Guillen told the Seattle Times. "Hopefully some of these young kids understand how important it is to run hard and take the extra bases. It's very important."
Guillen earned the praise of manager John McLaren for his hard play.
"He looked like Don Baylor out there, and he was the best I've ever seen," McLaren said of Guillen's two slides. "They were very clean. Good, hard-nosed baseball, and they were huge plays for us."
Reynolds' defense earns praises: Arizona third baseman Mark Reynolds opened some eyes with his hitting when first recalled from the minors this season. Now, his glove work is draw raves. Manager Bob Melvin said Reynolds is "one of the best third baseman in baseball."
Reynolds struggled in the field earlier this season in the Minors and when he first came to the Majors, as he has seven errors. However, he has started to hit his stride as a fielder recently.
"The ability was always there," Melvin told the Arizona Republic. "His confidence level has gone up and up since he's been here and realized he can play at this level."
Reynolds said one of the adjustments he has made since joining the Diamondbacks is getting used to the much larger size of the crowd.
"If you make an error, they ride you," he said. "It's all in good fun. The fans have been great everywhere I've been. It's been a great experience."
Conine welcomes chance with Mets: The New York Mets filled a void when they sent a pair of Minor Leaguers to Cincinnati for Jeff Conine, a player general manager Omar Minaya thought about trading for before the non-waiver trade deadline last month.
"When all is said and done, we needed to get that right-handed bat and professional player that Jeff is," Minaya told Newsday as part of a conference call. "He can help us at first base and he'll be able to play the corner , which he could play in a pinch."
Conine was happy to hear of the trade to New York.
"You want to be playing for something in September and October," Conine said. "That's why we put on a uniform, to win, and there's no better place to win than the New York Mets. I'm happy to be a Met for however much time as I am."
While the Mets appear headed for another postseason berth, Conine's playoff experience may come in handy. He has won two World Series with the Florida Marlins in 1997 and 2003 and has a .304 (31-for-102) average with one home run and eight RBIs in 32 playoff games.
"Mentally, you take it like it's just another at-bat and try not to make it anything more different than it is," Conine said. "It's the same pitchers you faced during the regular season. The field hasn't changed and their stuff hasn't changed. You go about it like that."
Ordonez among Aaron nominees: Every year since 1999, Major League Baseball has recognized the best offensive performer in each league with the Hank Aaron Award, presented by Sharp.
Past winners of the honor include Barry Bonds (three times), Alex Rodriguez (three times), Manny Ramirez (twice), David Ortiz, Andruw Jones, Albert Pujols, Todd Helton, Sammy Sosa and Carlos Delgado. Last year's winners, selected by the fans during the regular season's final month on MLB.com, were New York's Derek Jeter and Philadelphia's Ryan Howard.
Included in this year's nominee list is Detroit Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordonez, who is having an MVP-type season on all fronts.
"He's having one of those years," Tigers manager Jim Leyland told MLB.com.
To say the least.
Teammates are taking notice, too, of the big numbers being put up by Ordonez.
"I've never seen someone like him," said third baseman Brandon Inge. "Healthy now, the way he's swinging the bat, it's truly unbelievable. It really is. He's the best offensive player that I ever played with."
Count pitcher Nate Robertson as those also impressed.
"The way Magglio hits -- the way he tracks the ball and lets it deep into the zone -- he can go opposite field or he can jump you, too," said Robertson. "That's tough for a pitcher to try to figure out when you're watching film and trying to figure out how you're going to pitch a guy. You're seeing him going this way and that way. Basically, you're going, 'Hang with 'em.' He's nice to have in our lineup, that's for sure."
Percival landed in a good spot: After two years out of the game, Troy Percival was looking for a couple of different things upon his return to the game -- including the opportunity to pitch for a contending team and the chance to pitch late in ballgames.
So when he chose St. Louis -- 10 1/2 games out at the time with a back end of the bullpen that included Russ Springer, Ryan Franklin and Jason Isringhausen -- it did seem a tad curious. And, as you might expect, he was soon put into mopup situations at any time during the game.
"I've been on the couch for two years," Percival told MLB.com. "I didn't expect to step right in somewhere and start closing. I've had the opportunity to throw a couple eighth innings here, seventh innings. And that's given me a stepping stone, knowing that next year I can go in and really do some end-of-the-game pitching, whether it be the seventh inning, eighth inning or ninth inning."
Now, though, Percival has seen some more key opportunities and the Cardinals have climbed into the thick of the National League Central race.
"That's a pretty big name to bring in the way we did," said Isringhausen. "It was kind of unknown how he was going to do, and he's done a great job. He's been able to pick up the big innings when we needed him. And off the field, he's a guy that everybody looks up to. He's good to have around."
Percival has been solid in virtually every outing.
"I didn't come in with a lot of expectations, other than getting people out," he said. "I knew if I stayed healthy, I could do that. And I've been doing that, a little better than I expected. My velocity at times has been 94-95 [mph], and some nights it's not. But I've been pretty happy with the way it's gone."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.