Dodgers call up Juan Castro, send Ivan DeJesus to triple-A
Juan Castro is back, and I’m going way out on a limb here to declare it’s not because of his bat.
As a hitter, Castro is -- well, not really sure how to sum that up. Not good, doesn’t quite do the trick.
He has a reliable glove, however, and can play shortstop, second and third. And since Don Mattingly couldn’t find a way to play Ivan DeJesus Jr., DeJesus was returned to triple-A Albuquerque to make room for Castro.
"Ivan needs to play," Mattingly said. "It’s not going to do him any good to play once every five, six days. He needs to play.
"Juan gives us a guy who can play short, who can play third, who can play second. Until we can get [Rafael Furcal] back and get ourselves kind of back to full strength, Juan gives you that shortstop that you’re comfortable with. He’s kind of the right guy for what we need."
What they need is a utility infielder, since the two guys who were signed to fill that role -- Jamey Carroll and Aaron Miles -- are mostly starting with injuries to Casey Blake and Furcal.
"It’s a good feeling when somebody wants you, and somebody likes you," Castro said. "I’m just happy to be back here."
Back, as in this his fourth stint with the Dodgers. It's the sixth time they've called him up overall. The Dodgers' fascination with Castro goes back to 1991 when he first signed as a free agent and Clayton Kershaw was 3 years old. Castro turns 39 next month.
"I look young," he said.
He is so ineffective at the plate that when the Dodgers signed him as a non-roster invitee last December, Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness’ Mike Petriello went so far as to call him "one of the worst hitters in the history of baseball."
Using baseball sabermetrics, he called Castro the fourth worst hitter since 1901 for a player with his career number of at-bats (2,613).
Castro’s not here to hit, though there figure to be games when he’ll have to. When Furcal is activated, probably in about a week, Russ Mitchell will likely be sent down, meaning Castro is probably here at least until Blake returns. To make room for Castro on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers transferred Hector Gimenez to the 60-day disabled list. Castro hit .194 in 31 at-bats.
When Castro failed to make the team’s opening day roster, he considered retiring.
"Those four or five days, I was thinking if I wanted to continue to play the game," Castro said. "The Dodgers called me back and gave me a chance to go to triple-A and play a little bit there. I said I would do that and appreciated that they gave me the opportunity to go back there and play, and now I’m here in the big leagues."
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Juan Castro in 2009. Credit: Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times