Ramon Castro walked down a hallway in the Ducks' clubhouse sporting sunglasses with bright yellow frames and his shorts pulled high to his chest. He takes it upon himself to keep his teammates smiling and loose in the locker room before each game. But his humor is just one of many attributes that the 13-year big-league veteran brings to the Ducks. He has MLB postseason experience, has caught a perfect game and groomed hundreds of pitchers at all levels of baseball.
Were you always the locker room funny-guy?
"Always, my whole career, I like to have fun, keep everybody loose and I like to win. Right now, we're going to keep winning, make the playoffs and try to bring the championship back to Long Island."
You played in New York before with the Mets; was that a factor when you decided to play with the Ducks this season? How has your experience on Long Island been so far?
"I've been having a blast with the guys here. It's a nice experience for me and I love it. Before, I was getting offers to play in Sugar Land and other places, but I decided this is like home for me . . . I love New York. There are a lot of Spanish people and there's Latino food, you can get it anywhere any time of day. There are great people here and great fans. If you do good, they'll love you."
What's your favorite memory with the Mets?
"My best memory was when Endy Chavez caught that ball in the championship game. I was in the bullpen getting ready to go into the game . . . and as soon as he hit that ball, I put my head down and thought we lost. But then I heard the crowd and I looked back and Chavez got the ball, so that was the best."
What about in your career?
"When I caught the perfect game for Mark Buehrle in 2009. They traded me from the Mets to Chicago, so I had never caught him before and we were playing against Tampa. And he never shook me off . . . Buehrle and I talked for about 45 minutes before the game and I'm a smart catcher. I know what I'm doing back there. I control the game back there. He never shook me off, that means something, right? The team gave me a chance to catch that game. It's the best moment of my career."
What was the toughest part of that game?
"We had a guy on a 3-and-1 count in the ninth, I don't remember who it was , but I knew we had the perfect game going, and I was thinking, 'We'll lose the perfect game but not the no-hitter.' So I called a changeup where you'd think fastball, and he threw back-to-back changeups and struck the guy out. It was unbelievable. And then right before that, Dewayne Wise made that catch in the ninth. That was one of the biggest moments, too. They put him in as a defensive player for that inning, and that was a home run and he robbed it. Buehrle gave me a signed frame after the game of us hugging and celebrating, and he got Wise one of those, too, with his catch."
What do you remember about the last out of that game?
"The last out was a ground ball to shortstop, Alexei Ramirez. I just threw my glove in the air. It was my best moment. I had my family, my kids there in the stands with me that day, they were watching the game and it was a perfect game. My wife didn't realize what was happening because she doesn't know that much about baseball, but by the eighth inning, she was all nervous."