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Catcher gets his first hit, RBI in 3,654 days

Wilkin Castillo's go-ahead 2-run double gives Marlins win
@paul_casella
June 22, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- The only thing Wilkin Castillo remembers about his last appearance in the Majors prior to Saturday was feeling his right shoulder pop as he ran to second base after ripping a line drive over the center fielder's head for a pinch-hit RBI single at Great American Ball Park.

PHILADELPHIA -- The only thing Wilkin Castillo remembers about his last appearance in the Majors prior to Saturday was feeling his right shoulder pop as he ran to second base after ripping a line drive over the center fielder's head for a pinch-hit RBI single at Great American Ball Park.

He doesn't remember the final score or any other specifics about that game, but it's hard to blame him -- it was 10 years and two days ago.

Safe to say, the Marlins’ catcher will have much fonder memories of Saturday's 5-3 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Box score

Playing in his first big league game since June 20, 2009, Castillo made a triumphant return by delivering a go-ahead two-run double off the right-field wall with two outs in the seventh inning. That capped a three-run frame that flipped a two-run Miami deficit into a one-run lead.

"It was something indescribable," Castillo said through an interpreter. "It’s a lot of effort, just playing winter ball in the Dominican League, the Mexican League, the Minor Leagues for 10 years. So just being up here and see things happening, I thank God, and I thank the Marlins for giving me the opportunity to be here at the Major League level."

Castillo hadn't played a Major League game since sustaining a season-ending torn right labrum in that 2009 contest -- a 10-8 loss for Castillo's Reds against the White Sox. Coupled with his RBI single in that contest, Castillo's RBI double on Saturday made him the first player in MLB history with an RBI streak spanning more than 10 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Castillo also technically extended his hitting streak to three games, making him the first player with a hitting streak spanning more than a decade since Roy Schalk had a four-game streak from Sept. 17, 1932, to April 19, 1944.

Even before his game-winning hit, Castillo admitted that he was taken aback just being on a Major League field again.

"Once I squatted behind home plate, I felt -- I don’t know if it was nervous -- but I felt weird," Castillo said. "It was something out-of-body, just being there and seeing the whole scenario. But once we got the first batter, I started feeling more comfortable and ready for everything in the game."

Only two other position players from that 2009 contest have appeared in a Major League game in '19 -- Detroit's Gordon Beckham and Jay Bruce, who went 0-for-4 with a strikeout for the Phillies on Saturday. Bruce went 2-for-5 with a homer in that game, which also featured a pinch-hit appearance by Hall of Famer Jim Thome.

"I’m really happy for Wilkin," manager Don Mattingly said. "There’s a lot of guys out there that get a taste [of the Majors], then something happens and they’re trying to fight their way back. It tells you a lot about guys when they hang in there. That’s a long time to be playing Minor League baseball and trying to fight your way back."

While Castillo was back in a Major League lineup for the first time Saturday since sustaining that career-altering labrum injury in 2009, Bruce was playing his 1,399th big league game since that day.

That's not to say that Castillo hasn't gotten his reps. He's appeared in 813 combined games since, between the Minors, Dominican Winter League, Mexican League and even some independent league ball. He's played for Minor League affiliates with eight different organizations and was a member of the Long Island Ducks -- an independent league team -- as recently as last season.

"You love seeing those guys get opportunities, because you know the road they’ve been on," Mattingly said. "Even though you haven’t been there every step of the way, you know it’s been a road that’s a lot of bus trips, a lot of Spring Trainings, a lot of work. He’s just put in a ton of work to get back."

Castillo wasn't the only Marlins player with a memorable Saturday. His former teammate at Triple-A New Orleans, José Quijada, recorded the final two outs -- including a game-ending popout with the bases loaded -- to secure his first career big league save.

"We have great catchers in this organization, but of course pitching to Wilkin, we came up together from Triple-A," Quijada said. "So thank goodness that things came out right, and we won the game together."

Paul Casella is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella.