SARASOTA, Fla. - Miguel Castro took a few steps away from his spring training locker this morning, raised his head and smiled. The local media crew was approaching. He knew that he’d be recounting an incident that terrified him, that had him wondering if he’d live through it. But he still managed a smile.
No one was happier to be in camp than Castro, who survived an armed robbery last month in his native Dominican Republic that cost him only a couple of chains.
“I’m just thankful to God for an opportunity to be here,” Castro said via translator Ramón Alarcón. “Whatever happened is already in the past. I’m not thinking about it anymore. Right now I’m just concentrating on the next season and trying to do the best job that I can.”
Castro couldn’t walk away from the subject. Not with the press forming an arc around him.
“It took me about two or three weeks just to forget the whole thing,” he continued. “For a while, every time I went to bed I kept reimagining everything that happened, so thankfully, with the support of my family and people close to me, I was able to move forward and leave that behind.”
The news broke as Castro posted an update on his Instagram account, writing that he was alive “by the mercy of God.” The gun held by one of his assailants jammed and he was able to escape.
National media outlets pounced on the story.
“When I made the post, I never imagined it was going to just reach out to so many people,” Castro said. “I heard from so many people. Former players, current players, teammates, past teammates. So many people reached out to me, supporting me, it was overwhelming.
“It was really good to see that there are people out there that care for you, that want the best for you, so I’m just thankful for everybody - the team, fans and family - for reaching out to me.”
The national police of the Dominican Republic announced on Jan. 10 that they captured two of the three men and posted a photo of Castro taking back one of the chains.
“Really scary, concerned for his safety,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “We feel real fortunate that things worked out real well for him. I haven’t had a chance to speak with him yet. I’m going to track him down after this, but organizationally we were scared for him and glad to hear that he’s OK and it worked out.”
Castro, who was throwing at one of the facilities, said he’ll continue to go back to the Dominican after the season. The robbery and threat on his life won’t keep him away.
“I never expected something like that to happen. I couldn’t imagine something like that,” he said. “(But) to be honest, nothing really changes. I’m going to continue to work hard. I’m not going to move out of my home. I’m going to continue to work hard with the young kids and just hopefully to be a role model for them.
“When those people approached me, the first thing that came to mind was my family, and then that I was going to lose my job. It was really a bad situation. A bad month, bad timing. But that’s just in the past. I’m moving forward.”
None of the chains hung around Castro’s neck this morning, but he reached into his locker and pulled out the thickest one.
He smiled again.
“The chain is not in really good shape,” he said. “I need to take it to a jeweler so they can brush it up and make it nice for me to start wearing in again.”