Castilla rejoins Rockies

Vinny Castilla couldn't contain the ear-to-ear grin. He smiled as photos were snapped, and grinned when he answered questions.

Castilla was elated to be back with the Colorado Rockies, agreeing to terms on a minor league contract yesterday for his third stint with the franchise. He previously played for the Rockies from 1993 to 1999, and again in 2004.


Castilla will spend a few weeks with Triple-A Colorado Springs as a designated hitter to work on his swing and test his sore knee. If everything goes as scheduled, Castilla will be brought up Sept. 1, when rosters expand. After the season, Castilla will retire and join the organization in an undetermined capacity.

"I'm excited to retire as a Rockie," he said.


The third baseman, a career .276 hitter, was released by the San Diego Padres on July 21 after hitting .232 in 72 games..

Reds -- Left-hander Kent Mercker, 38, will undergo season-ending reconstructive surgery on his left elbow Thursday. Mercker, a former Oriole, has been on the disabled list three times this season with elbow problems. He is 1-1, with a 4.13 ERA and one save in 37 relief appearances this season.

Nationals -- Second baseman Jose Vidro, who has been sidelined since July 18 with a left hamstring injury, is heading to Double-A Harrisburg to continue his rehabilitation work and could be back with Washington by the end of the week. Also, manager Frank Robinson chalked up Brian Schneider's out-of-character post-game tirade Sunday to "a heat-of-the-moment thing."

Pirates -- All-Star outfielder Jason Bay, who had tightness in his upper right hamstring, did not start for the first time in almost two years. He had not missed a start since Sept. 4, 2004 - 307 consecutive games. The Pirates also placed outfielder Nate McLouth on the 15-day disabled list because of a sprained left ankle.

Phillies -- All-Star closer Tom Gordon has soreness in his right shoulder and will likely miss the rest of Philadelphia's four-game series with the Mets.

Olympics -- Former Oriole Mike Kinkade and former major leaguer Chad Allen lead the roster for the U.S. national team that will compete in an Olympic qualifying tournament in Havana from Aug. 25 to Sept. 5. Former Orioles manager Davey Johnson will manage the U.S. team. The United States did not qualify for the Olympics in 2004. The 24-man roster consists of professionals who are not in the majors.