Castro 'extremely grateful' for title in final season

December 16th, 2022

HOUSTON -- While the Astros were mobbing each other on the infield at Minute Maid Park in the moments after winning the World Series on Nov. 5, one player was making a more measured stroll from the dugout to the celebration.

Catcher Jason Castro, still recovering from left knee surgery, couldn’t quite keep up with his teammates pouring onto the field when Kyle Tucker caught the final out to beat the Phillies in Game 6 of the Fall Classic. Perhaps it was only fitting, though, that Castro had extra time to enjoy the moment and soak up what turned out to be his final time on a big league field as an active player.

“On the way out, I actually caught eyes with Tucker coming in from right field and he just yelled at me like, ‘You better run!’” Castro said. “I took a few hobbled steps, and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s not going to work.’ I was not really in a great position to join the celebration immediately. Those things die down pretty quickly, and being able to be on the field for it in any capacity was something I’ll never forget.”

Castro announced his retirement on Dec. 2 after a 12-year career that covered four teams, one All-Star appearance, 97 career homers and five knee surgeries, which is ultimately why the former first-round Draft pick retired at age 35. Castro had been leaning toward retirement for quite some time, saying in Spring Training that the 2022 season could be his last.

Castro, taken by the Astros out of Stanford with the 10th overall pick in 2008, debuted in 2010 and missed the entire '11 season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in Spring Training. Most recently, he had surgery in July to repair the meniscus in his left knee, ending his season and ultimately his career.

“If I had never had any sort of knee injury, who knows what would have happened to my career?” Castro said. “Having it so early on, missing what would have been my first full season, you never really know. Where I’m at in my life and with my family -- my kids are getting older now -- it seemed like the right time [to retire]. And with the way things ended, it was like a perfect culmination of my career, and I’m proud to go out with the championship in my final season.”

The final swing of Castro’s career was certainly a memorable one. He clubbed a two-run home run in the ninth inning of a 2-0 win at the Mets on June 29, backing up a strong outing by Justin Verlander. Castro knew earlier in the game he had injured his knee.

“Getting what ended up being the final swing off and hitting a home run there to win that game, that was pretty cool,” he said. “At the time, it was great we won the game and everything. I knew early on in that game I had done something pretty significant to my knee and was more worried about that and what that was going to mean going forward. Looking back on it, obviously a pretty cool way to end it.”

Castro ranks third on the Astros’ all-time games caught list with 654, behind Brad Ausmus (1,243) and Alan Ashby (900). Castro left the Astros in free agency following the 2016 season -- the year before they won the World Series -- and spent three seasons with the Twins (2017-19), then split 2020 between the Angels and Padres before returning to Houston prior to the ’21 season.

He was Houston’s starting catcher through its rebuilding years, which included three consecutive 100-loss seasons, and he was the club’s lone All-Star in 2013 -- its first season in the American League. He guided several up-and-coming pitchers early in their careers, including catching Lance McCullers Jr.’s Major League debut in 2015.

Castro, who has a degree from Stanford, lives in Houston and wants to return to the game eventually, but for now, he is going to focus on spending time with his wife, Maris, and their three kids -- sons aged 6 years old and 12 months old and a 4-year-old daughter.

“A lot of people play this game for a long time and never have an opportunity to be part of a team like this,” Castro said of the Astros. “I’m extremely grateful to be a part of it, to come back to Houston for my final two years of playing and be a part of this team.”