LAKELAND, Fla. -- In many ways, Jason Castro's return to Joker Marchant Stadium on Sunday signified just how far he has come since the previous time he set foot in the ballpark. That was on March 2, 2011, when Castro stepped awkwardly on first base, tore up his right knee and was lost for the season.
Castro announced his return in style, hitting a leadoff homer in the third inning in his first at-bat Sunday against the Tigers.
"I tried to stay away from the old locker I was at from the last time," Castro joked before the game. "But no, it's in the past, and I'm just looking forward to getting in the last game of the spring, getting it over with and heading out tomorrow."
Castro has proven to be completely healthy while putting together a good spring at the plate and defensively. He will start on Opening Day on Friday against the Rockies.
He's undoubtedly come a long way in 13 months.
"It actually seems like a lot longer than it really has been," he said. "I went through a lot this past year, and I'm just really happy to be back where I'm at right now and the spot I'm in this close to the season. I missed a lot of time and I'm looking forward to making up for it."