Vinny Castilla retires, joins Rockies front office

Vinny Castilla confirmed Wednesday that he won't be returning to play a 17th major-league season.

Vinny Castilla concluded his pro career in unique fashion on Wednesday, playing first base for Mexico in the Caribbean Series at Carolina, Puerto Rico.

Castilla, 39, confirmed afterward that he wouldn't be returning to play a 17th major-league season.

Instead, he will serve as a special assistant to Colorado Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd and, eventually, try coaching or managing.

"I left everything on the field and always respected the game," said Castilla, who hit 46 home runs and drove in 144 runs for the Rockies in 1999.

"There is no doubt about Vinny's knowledge of the game," Mexican manager Lorenzo Bundy said. "It's immense.

"I'm sure he has thought about managing and things like that. He's a special assistant to Dan O'Dowd, right now.

"What lies down the road for him, as far as managing? I think he's going to have to make that decision when he wants to really put that uniform back on."

Castilla split 87 games last season between the San Diego Padres and Rockies, hitting a combined .229 with five home runs, 27 runs batted in and 26 runs scored.

Colorado claimed him off waivers last Aug. 14, so he could retire in a Rockies uniform.

He retires with a lifetime .276 average, 320 HRs, 1,105 RBIs and 902 runs in 1,854 games over 16 MLB seasons with the Atlanta Braves, Rockies, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Houston Astros, Washington Nationals and Padres.

A national hero

Castilla's career output, combined with two all-star selections and three Silver Slugger Awards have made him a national hero in his native Mexico.

"Vinny is a hero, there's no doubt about it," Bundy said. "There's not going to be anybody that comes close to what he's done offensively."

Castilla played 1,656 of his 1,854 MLB games at third base and just nine at first base.

In his final game, he stroked a fourth-inning double — the first hit surrendered by Venezuela's starter Horacio Estrada — and scored on Luis Garcia's RBI single en route to a 4-3 victory.

"When the players from the other countries hugged me after the game, I could not hold back the tears," Castilla said. "I felt very emotional and proud for all my accomplishment."

With files from the Associated Press