Castillo Returning To Form

Castillo says he felt real good on Wednesday

The career numbers are quite good for 20-year old Francisco Castillo. But reportedly seeing his velocity dip below normal, he was left of the Yankees' Spring Training roster this year and sent to Extended Spring Training instead until he made his 2007 and Florida State League debut with the Tampa Yankees on Wednesday and he says he is beginning to feel like his old self once again.

"It felt really, really good," Francisco Castillo said of his 2007 debut with the Tampa Yankees on Wednesday. "If the Yankees call me again [to pitch in Tampa], I don't know [if they will], but I'll be ready. I live for this. It's my work."

Castillo, who owned a 6-3 record and a 3.02 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 92 1/3 innings in his career entering this season, struck out three batters, walked one, allowed three hits and one run (unearned) in two innings of relief in Tampa's 5-1 loss to Clearwater.

But the most important number was perhaps the one flashing on the radar gun. Once throwing 92-95 MPH fastballs in the Gulf Coast League back in 2005, he inexplicably struggled to top 90 MPH in Staten Island last season and his dip in velocity is reportedly one of the reasons he wasn't invited to regular Spring Training this year and held back at the Yankees' Dominican complex.

"I don't know what happened about that," he said about being passed over for regular Spring Training. "I'm here for the Yankees. If the Yankees tell me I have do that, I do that. I don't have any problem with the Yankees."

"They say something, I do it. I don't question anything about it. If they tell me I have to be in Extended Spring Training, I don't have any problem with it."

With the Tampa Yankees needing some extra arms after using seven pitchers in Tuesday's 4-1 loss to Clearwater in 20 innings, Castillo was one that got the call on Wednesday and he says his fastball was once again in the 92-93 MPH range.

"I feel very good. I feel one-hundred percent good. My velocity is back now," Castillo revealed.

"I came back from the Dominican complex ready, one-hundred percent ready," he continued. "Everything is good, the slider, the changeup, the fastball is really nice. I can throw it wherever I want to throw it, on the outside corner, inside - wherever I want to throw it, I can do it with my fastball."

While the spot start in the Florida State League was welcomed, the fact remains that Castillo appears set to remain a fixture in Extended Spring Training this year, perhaps even with a return trip to the NY-Penn League in his future.

But the laid-back Dominican native takes everything in stride and keeps his goals simple - he merely wants to pitch.

"I want to be fine in my body. I don't put any numbers [as a goal] for wins or anything like that. Wherever the Yankees put me, in Double-A, high-A, low-A, whatever, I'm going to be there to help my team."

"I don't have any problem with it," he said about possibly going back to Staten Island this year. "That's for the Yankees [to decide]. If they tell me to go to Staten Island, I'll go there. I have no problem with that, I'll be very happy."

"That's what I want, I want to pitch in the games," he concluded.

If he can continue to put up velocities closer to his 2005 season like he did on Wednesday, the feeling will be mutual with the Yankees.

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