7/17/2013 1:34 A.M. ET
Castro enjoyed every moment of All-Star experience
Though playing time didn't materalize, catcher had a blast in New York
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Jason Castro didn't need a printed depth chart to understand where he stood in the American League All-Star pecking order.
There were three catchers on the roster: starter Joe Mauer, Salvador Perez and him. Mauer caught six innings. Perez caught three. Baseball is nine innings. And, well ... That's all, folks.
Just how disappointed Castro was to not get in the game is purely speculative. He was diplomatic about the whole thing afterward, emphasizing that although he would have liked to have played, he went into it knowing full well he may not get the chance. That's the life of a backup catcher, after all.
"It's understandable with what this game means for the postseason," Castro said. "There are a number of guys that didn't get in. Being a catcher, that's the one position where you really don't have just anybody that can fill in. So it's understandable."
All-Star managers are playing to win, given the high stakes -- World Series home-field advantage -- that ride on the game. Having an emergency or backup catcher on the bench is a strategy used daily during the regular season, to protect against injury to the front-line starter. Castro sensed after the eighth inning that AL manager Jim Leyland would stick with Perez to work with closer Joe Nathan, and he wasn't shocked when it happened.
"I was definitely looking around, making sure I was ready just in case," Castro said. "But I figured at that point I was going to be an emergency situation-type thing."
Still, Castro walks away with no regrets. His first All-Star appearance was a thrill, regardless of playing time. He had a front-row seat to one of the more entertaining Midsummer Classics in recent history, if for no other reason than the hoopla that surrounded the retiring Mariano Rivera:
A standing ovation from the sold-out crowd, the blaring of Rivera's signature "Enter Sandman" as he ran in to pitch the eighth, his teammates' decision to wait to take the field while Rivera soaked in the adoration from the pitcher's mound, and the grateful expression on Rivera's face as he relayed his appreciation to the crowd.
Throw in an appearance by crowd favorite Neil Diamond, and come to think of it, maybe the dugout wasn't such a bad place to be.
"That's something that I'll remember for the rest of my life," Castro said. "To be a teammate, in the dugout, and be a part of that was incredible. It was an honor to be here, good timing, and it's been a great experience."
Most players who have participated in All-Star Games cite the camaraderie and some good old-fashioned shop talk as their favorite elements of being a part of the event. Players like to pick one another's brain, without giving away too much.
Castro was definitely all ears during his time with his temporary teammates.
"We talked a little bit," he said. "I was in on some conversations with different pitchers and what they were talking about. Just being around all these guys ... There's just so much baseball knowledge in that room. We talked back and forth about what works for guys with their teams and things like this. It's great to be a part of this.
"These guys are the best at what they do. To have that opportunity to be around people like that definitely can only benefit someone in this situation."
Castro, whose wife, parents, brother and family friends were with him throughout the experience, was prepared for the chaotic nature of the All-Star Game and figured it would be magnified even more because it took place in New York. For a first-timer, this was a good one to be a part of.
"It's definitely a lot kind of coming at you at once," he said. "But I've just taken it all in stride and just enjoyed every moment of it. I'm excited to be a part of this, but I'm excited to get back to the [Astros] and start up the second half."