For 35-year-old Wilkin Castillo, for the first time in more than 10 years, a hit was the majesty, and it was a beautiful sweet on it. At the top of the seventh with two outs against Phillies, Castillo smoked an RBI double in the right field, sending two runners home and giving Marlins a lead they would not give up the rest of the game.
Before Saturday, Castillo had not played in a big league ballpark since June 20, 2009, when he was a member of Reds. In this game against the white sox he came in as a pinch hitter-fun fact: Hall of Famer Jim Thome also came in to squeeze back at that time – but had to leave shortly after his first and only bat after having suffered a season-ending reef right labrum while trying to reach another base. Since then, he has played in over 800 minor league games spread out between the Dominican Winter League, an independent league ball, the Mexican league and the minors.
"It was something indescribable," Castillo said through an interpreter. "It's a lot of effort just to play winter ball in the Dominican League, the Mexican league, the smaller leagues for 10 years. So right here and see things happen, I thank God and I thank Marlins for allowing me to be here at the Major League level. "
The possibility was not without nerves, although it can be expected. Unlike his last appearance, Castillo was not just a shred that could be retrieved from the bench, he now also had fielding responsibilities as Miami's catcher.
"When I slipped behind home plate, I felt it – I don't know if it was nervous – but I felt weird," Castillo said. "There was something out of the body just to be there and see the whole scenario. But first we got the first smash, I started to feel more comfortable and ready for everything in the game."
But Castor's long-awaited professional redemption is Not the only thing to enjoy about this moment. There are also the wild statistics that he qualifies for due to his decades-long departure from the big ones. Per Elias Sports Bureau, Castillo is the only player in MLB history with an RBI strip that has lasted over 10 years when he hit an RBI single in his last game in 2009. He also became the first player since Roy Schalk has a wandering span over a decade, Schalk had four consecutive hits from September 17, 1932 to April 19, 1944.
Even cooler than these weird statistics is that Phillies outfielder Jay Bruce is probably one of the few people on this planet who can claim to have seen the whole strip. Bruce was Castillo's teammate at Red in 2009 – he started in the right field – and even though the current Philadelphia player has had a long career in the majors, Castillo had at least the opportunity to temporarily forget this disagreement as he saw Bruce at 0-for-4 on the record with a strikeout.