Starlin Castro happy to be back in the Bronx for two games at his favorite Stadium

NEW YORK - Between the front office, coaching staff and Major League roster, there are nearly a dozen men in the Marlins organization with recent ties to the New York Yankees - but perhaps none of them were as excited to be back in the Bronx on Monday as Starlin Castro, who returned for the first time since being dealt to Miami in the Giancarlo Stanton trade this past December.

"It feels good to be back, to see everyone and play in one of my favorite ballparks," Castro said prior to Monday's game. "It's going to feel different because I enjoyed playing here a lot, but the two years I had here were really fun, so it's fun to be back."

Castro called his two-year stint with the Yankees "two of the best years I've had," and admitted he loved playing at Yankee Stadium even before he was in pinstripes.

"I like everything about (Yankee Stadium), even from when I was here with the Cubs," he said. "Hitting here, you see the ball so well, and the infield is great. It's awesome."

Castro is somewhat of an anomaly on the current Marlins team in many ways, including salary, and came from a Yankees team that was one win away from the World Series last year to a Marlins team that was 4-11 entering this series. That could be mentally taxing, especially since the Cubs traded Castro to the Yankees the winter before they won the World Series, too, but the usually jovial second baseman was upbeat when asked about that series of transactions.

"As players, we can't control that; (being traded from the Yankees) was tough, and I was a little upset because I didn't think I'd get traded so soon," he said. "But after that, I tried to keep the negative in the past; it surprised me when I got traded, but that's nothing I can control, so I think I'll enjoy (being back)."

Castro was actually in New York when the deal happened, and received a call from new Yankees manager Aaron Boone just before the deal, and instead of playing for a new manager in pinstripes, he's ended up playing for a new manager who used to wear pinstripes.

"It's been good (playing for Don Mattingly), and he's been great with the team," Castro said. "We have a young team with a lot of talent, full of guys who try to get better every day and battle. We come out and play hard every day, and that's the team that we're looking for."

It's also been good, Castro said, playing for new Marlins CEO and part-owner Derek Jeter, who was still conspicuous despite his pre-announced absence from this road trip.

"He's been in Miami at the park every day, and he talks with all the players during batting practice," Castro said. "He's supported the team a lot."

Castro has been keeping up with many of his former mates despite the distance, and before he got to the park on Monday, he actually FaceTimed with a handful of Yankees.

"The first thing I did when I got here, I called (Ronald) Torreyes," Castro smiled. "Didi (Gregorius) then came over, and Miguel Andujar and Domingo German, and even Danilo (Valiente, the Yankees' batting practice pitcher) and Marlon (Abreu, the team's Spanish translator, too)."

He lamented that Luis Severino was unable to join, as he was scheduled to pitch Monday, but Castro was ready to face his good friend, whom he blew a jocular kiss to prior to his first at-bat.

"You know eventually a time is going to come when you're going to have to face him," Castro said. "Sevy and I are pretty tight, but that's the game; I know he's going to give me his best, and I have to go out there and compete and give my best, too."

Severino won that battle, retiring Castro in both at-bats they faced off Monday, and the Yankees won the game by a wide 12-1 margin. But it was still fun to be back, even if manager Don Mattingly got roll call and Castro didn't.

"I didn't expect anything," Castro smiled after the game, "but I was going to have fun out there no matter what."