The phrase “coming full circle” was made for moments like this.
Miami Marlins catcher Wilkin Castillo returned to the big leagues for the first time in 10 years and two days on Saturday. And he made quite an impact, ripping a two-run double in the seventh inning that held as the game winner in Miami’s 5-3 victory against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Before Saturday, the last time Castillo, now 35, stepped on an MLB field was June 20, 2009.
The 3,654-day gap was the longest for a major league player since infielder Jim Baumer went 11 years and 191 days between appearances from Oct. 2, 1949, to April 11, 1961.
Unlike Baumer, however, Castillo can say he has a hitting streak that spans a decade.
In fact, not many can make that claim.
As predicted, Wilkin Castillo is the first player with a hitting streak to span more than 10 years since Roy Schalk had a 4-game streak from Sept. 17, 1932 to April 19, 1944, a span of 11 years, 215 days. #Marlins #Lowly
— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) June 22, 2019
Castillo's last at-bat in 2009 was a pinch-hit single for the Cincinnati Reds. Unfortunately, on that very same play, he suffered a torn right labrum while attempting a slide into second base.
That setback set in motion the comeback journey that was completed and celebrated in Philadelphia.
After he recovered, Castillo moved around to seven different MLB organizations, played in multiple independent and winter leagues, all while hoping for one more chance on the big stage.
That finally came on Saturday.
Unfortunately, it came due to another injury. Marlins starting catcher Jorge Alfaro was placed on the seven-day concussion list. But that doesn’t take away from Castillo’s moment.
"I’m really happy for Wilkin," manager Don Mattingly told MLB.com before Saturday’s game. "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."
Saturday was Castillo’s 23rd game overall in MLB. He finished 1-for-4 at the plate.
That one, though, might be the most memorable and satisfying one he’ll ever have.
For your perseverance and determination, we salute you, Wilkin Castillo.
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