Jason Castro likely to miss entire season with torn ACL

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Jason Castro’s season is over before it even began, as the Astros catcher has been diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn medial meniscus in his right knee.

Castro, who suffered the injury Wednesday while running to first base, is expected to be sidelined for at least six months. That leaves some chance that he could return in September, but with the Astros likely to be well out of contention by that point they’ll have no reason to rush the 24-year-old former No. 10 overall pick back into the lineup.

His injury leaves the Astros with the same catching situation they had prior to calling up Castro from the minors in the middle of last season. Humberto Quintero is now atop the depth chart and one-time “catcher of the future” J.R. Towles now seems likely to make the team (and get one final shot at sticking in the majors) as his backup. Carlos Corporan, Brian Esposito, and Rene Garcia are the other catchers in camp.

Towles is still young enough to potentially step up and show that his solid minor-league numbers are for real, but so far he’s hit just .189 in 101 games in the majors. Quintero is a 31-year-old career-long backup who’s hit just .232 with a ghastly .271 on-base percentage and .322 slugging percentage in 300 games. Among all the players with at least 800 plate appearances since Quintero’s debut in 2003 his .593 OPS ranks third-worst ahead of only Tony Pena (who has since converted to pitching) and Jeff Mathis.

Castro’s development was one of the few things Astros fans had to look forward to this season, but instead they may not see him again until 2012 and an already bad team just got even worse.

The Angels were the first team to use up all of their mound visits

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Last night’s Angels-Astros game was a long affair with a bunch of homers and the use of 11 pitchers in all. The Angels used six pitchers and all of that business led to plenty of conferences. Six, in fact, which is their allotment under the new rule capping mound visits. As far as I can tell, that makes the Angels the first team to use up all of their mound visits since the advent of the rule.

Sadly, they did not try to go for a seventh, thereby testing the currently unknown limits of the rule. Umpires have been instructed to not allow additional mound visits, but they cannot issue balls or tackle anyone or anything to enforce it. Presumably, if Maldonado had walked out to talk to Cam Bedrosian about the weather or where he was going to dinner after the game, the home plate umpire would’ve simply done the old Robin Williams English policeman’s bit of yelling “Stop! . . . or I shall yell ‘Stop!’ again!” Maybe a fine would issue later, but we’ll never know.

At least until someone breaks the limit. And we know someone will, right? We should have a betting pool on who does it.