Miami Marlins

Marlins All-Star Memories: Demoted in 1997, Luis Castillo becomes one of the franchise’s best

Luis Castillo turns a double play.
Luis Castillo turns a double play. Miami Herald file photo

The Marlins will be represented at the All-Star Game for the 25th time on July 11 when the Midsummer Classic is played at Marlins Park in Little Havana.

Gary Sheffield and Bryan Harvey were part of the Marlins’ first All-Star Game at Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1993. In 2016, four Marlins (Marcell Ozuna, Jose Fernandez, Fernando Rodney and A.J. Ramos) were part of the All-Star Game in San Diego.

The Miami Herald will look back at the top All-Stars who represented the Marlins — from Sheffield to Giancarlo Stanton — starting Sunday and running through the All-Star Game on July 11.

When the Marlins won their first World Series championship in 1997, Luis Castillo was watching his friends from his home in the Dominican Republic.

Craig Counsell, who scored the game-winning run, took Castillo’s spot at second base earlier in the season, the Marlins sending Castillo to the minors in July.

“It was hard,” Castillo told the Miami Herald in 2002. “I wasn't there. I wasn't a part of it.”

Said former Marlins manager John Boles: “I think in the long run, what happened in the past made him stronger. He was either going to fold his tent, or grit his teeth and move forward.”

It took Castillo a few years to get his job back on a permanent basis and did he ever make up for lost time.

Castillo, once established, was considered one of the best second basemen in the game and one of the best players in franchise history.

Five years after losing his job to Counsell, Castillo made his first of three All-Star Game appearances while with the Marlins.

Alongside third baseman Mike Lowell, Castillo’s first All-Star Game in 2002 was a memorable one as the game ended in a tie when commissioner Bud Selig called things off in the 11th inning.

It would have been hard to ignore Castillo by 2002.

In 1999, he hit .302 and led the majors in steals while hitting .334 in 2000.

Before the 2002 All-Star Game, Castillo went on a hitting tear, setting a franchise record with a 35-game hit streak which at the time was the 10th longest such run in baseball history.

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Castillo’s bid for 36 ended in the on-deck circle as Tim Raines’ sacrifice fly in the ninth scored Andy Fox from third and gave Florida a 5-4 win over the visiting Tigers.

'”I was close to having my last at-bat,” said Castillo, who got a hug from manager Jeff Torborg in the on-deck circle, “but the more important thing was to win the game.”

In 2003, Castillo was back in the All-Star Game but went only when Atlanta’s Marcus Giles was ruled out with a concussion.

Castillo was joined in Chicago with teammates Lowell and Dontrelle Willis — the first time Florida had three All-Stars since 1997.

As was the case that year, the Marlins would win the World Series. This time, Castillo would be a big part of it.

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Florida’s Luis Castillo is greeted by teammates after scoring from second against Arizona on July 30, 2003. ALAN DIAZ AP

Two years later, Castillo made his third All-Star appearance with the Marlins, going to Detroit’s Comerica Park with future Tigers’ star Miguel Cabrera. Castillo had a hit and scored a run.

“I think the people got to see what kind of player I am,” Castillo said. “We didn't win, but it was fun.”

As is the case with most Marlins, Castillo’s run with the franchise ended up in him being traded away.

In December of 2005, the Marlins went through yet another dismantling of their roster and Castillo would not be spared as he was shipped to the Minnesota Twins for minor-league pitchers Travis Bowyer and Scott Tyler.

According to the Herald’s account of the trade, Castillo was the fourth starter to be traded in the past 10 days with Paul Lo Duca and Juan Pierre on deck.

“I would have liked to stay. I would have liked at least another year,” said Castillo, who had signed with the organization before its first game in 1993.

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A three-time Gold Glove second baseman, the speedy Castillo played five more seasons after being traded away from the Marlins. After parts of two seasons with the Twins, Castillo was traded to the Mets where he ended his career in 2010 at the age of 34.

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Boston’s Manny Ramirez hugs Florida’s Luis Castillo after the team photo for the 2005 All-Star Game in downtown Detroit. MORRY GASH AP

Castillo is at or near the top of the Marlins’ all-time record book, leading in games played (1,128), at-bats (4,347), runs scored (675), hits (1,273), triples (42), walks (533) and stolen bases (281).

As should be the case, Castillo will be part of the All-Star celebration at Marlins Park next month.

At this year’s All-Star Futures Game, Castillo will serve as an assistant coach to former teammate Edgar Renteria — the guy who drove in Counsell to beat the Indians back in 1997 — on the World Team.

CELEBRATING THE MARLINS ALL-STARS

Sunday, June 18 — Gary Sheffield (1993, 1996)

Monday, June 19 — Jeff Conine (1994, 1995)

Wednesday, June 21 — Hanley Ramirez (2008, 2009, 2010)

Friday, June 23 — Mike Lowell (2002, 2003, 2004)

Monday, June 26 — Luis Castillo (2002, 2003, 2005)

Wednesday, June 28 — Charles Johnson (1997, 2001)

Thursday, June 29 — Kevin Brown (1996, 1997)

Friday, June 30 — Dan Uggla (2006, 2008)

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