Sunday, March 6, 2011
#705) RAMON CASTRO
Ramon Castro joined the New York Mets organization when he signed a free agent contract on December 22, 2004. The Puerto Rican native was brought in to provide a backup for catcher Mike Piazza. Ramon made his debut with the Mets on April 7, 2005 in Cincinnati during a 6-1 loss to the Reds. The jovial catcher became the prankster of the team and a very popular figure in the clubhouse. He would have strong numbers for the season hitting eight home runs with 41 RBIs while posting a .244 batting average. Castro filled in admirably when Piazza was injured in August and September that year. Leading to speculation that he might serve as the starting catcher in 2006 after Mike left as a free agent.
New York traded for All-Star catcher Paul LoDuca and returned Ramon to a backup role. Injuries limited Castro to only 40 games in 2006. He spent time on the disabled list from July 27th to September 27th with both rib cage and left knee problems.
The tandem of LoDuca and Castro returned for the 2007 campaign. A more healthy Ramon produced a career-high 11 home runs, while hitting for a .285 batting average. His home run on July 29, 2007 was enough to back John Maine's one-hitter at Shea Stadium. The Mets won 5-0 over the Washington Nationals. "They don't give me the chance I want, but I know what I have to do," said Castro who was playing that day for an injured LoDuca. "I feel I'm ready."
When LoDuca was not re-signed it appeared that Castro might to be given his chance to start in 2008. The Mets brought back Ramon with a two-year contract, but the club also traded for catcher Brian Schneider. "We are glad to have re-signed Ramon back," said Mets General Manager Omar Minaya. "He has developed into the kind of hitter who you want to come up in clutch situations. In addition to what he brings on the field. Ramon is a tremendous presence in the clubhouse." Although back in the accustomed spot of the backup during most of the season, he was the starting catcher for the Mets during the final game played at Shea Stadium on September 28, 2008.
"In a big spot, runners on, you'd always want Ramon up there," said teammate Luis Castillo. "He just hits the ball so hard."