Back in October, Robstown High School's baseball head coach Steve Castro underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery that he arranged after he started feeling discomfort in his chest during last baseball season. As the 2010 baseball draws near, Castro is working hard to prepare for his return.

"I'm doing okay," Castro said on Monday. "The doctor gave me the release to return to work on Jan. 4."

Right now, Castro is in his fourth week of rehab therapy, where he travels to Doctor's Regional, located at 3315 S. Alameda St. in Corpus Christi, three days out of the week to rebuild his strength.

"I do some running on a treadmill, some arm exercises with three-to-five pound dumbells and some breathing exercises" Castro said. "It's a 45-minute workout every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 10 weeks."

When Castro returns to coaching next year, it will be a few weeks prior to the official start of baseball season.

"We will be getting ready to start our regular practice schedule on the last Friday of January," Castro said. "That's the official start, Jan. 29. Before that, we can practice only an hour a day."

Even with the short amount of time alloted for practice during the off-season, Castro said the team has kept busy competing in tournament games during the weekends as well.

"There are a couple more coming up, but I'm not sure if we're going to compete in any more," he said.

Castro said his focus right now is to try to get the team organized for this season.

"We'll be looking at the guys coming back from last year," Castro said. "We want to concentrate on (the starters) returning from last year working with the new guys this year. Hopefully, the new guys will build on what we have."

Last year, the Cotton Pickers finished second in their district with a record of 17-7. Returning starters from last year will include junior Michael Velasquez and senior Randy Flores.

Castro said he's looking carefully at the players that are competing for positions on the Varsity squad, and that the beginning practices, as well as the scrimmage games the team will play for two weeks starting on Feb. 9, will be where he'll determine who will be on this year's squad.

"We have some good players that have been with the program and we're trying to find the right spot for them," Castro said.

The 2010 high school baseball season will officially start on Feb. 21.