Minor league pitcher goes on trial

Updated: July 21, 2009, 7:58 PM ET
Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio -- A fan who says he was hit by a baseball hurled by a minor league pitcher during an on-field brawl testified Tuesday that he had a throbbing headache and swelling for days afterward.

Chris McCarthy, 45, of Middletown, testified for the prosecution in the trial of Julio Castillo, who is charged with felonious assault. Castillo, a 22-year-old pitcher from the Dominican Republic, has pleaded not guilty.

Castillo was pitching for the Peoria Chiefs against the Dayton Dragons when a bench-clearing brawl broke out last July.

[+] EnlargeJulio Castillo
AP Photo/Ron AlveyJulio Castillo has been charged with felonious assault for throwing a ball into the stands during an on-the-field brawl.

McCarthy says the swelling in his head got so bad that he couldn't wear a hard hat for the part of his job in which he goes into a paper mill.

McCarthy said Castillo, who appeared angry, hurled the ball toward the Dragons' dugout and that the ball came into the stands, striking him in the temple area.

"It came and struck me in the head here, knocking my hat off and leaving a mark where the seams hit me," said McCarthy, who was sittinng with his wife, his 7-year-old son and 7-year-old nephew at the time. "I didn't remember all the details after that. I did not lose consciousness, but I was not thinking clearly."

Assistant Montgomery County Prosecutor Jon Marshall said McCarthy was taken to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with a concussion.

"He decided he was going to hurt someone, anyone," Marshall said of Castillo. "He had in his hand a hard dense object, a baseball. He decided to hurl that baseball, that object, with great force."

Defense attorney Dennis Lieberman said that as tensions between the two teams escalated, Castillo threw the ball at the Dayton dugout to keep Dragons' players from rushing the field.

"He throws it at the dugout -- at the fencing in front of the dugout -- to hit an inanimate object to scare them away," Lieberman said. "He does it because he can't talk. He can't speak English. ... He wasn't throwing it at an individual."

Castillo has been charged with two counts of felonious assault -- felonious assault with a deadly weapon and felonious assault causing serious physical harm. If convicted on both charges and sentenced to consecutive terms, he could face up to 16 years in prison.

Castillo is on the roster of the Boise Hawks, a Class A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, but is not allowed to play. The Cubs are awaiting the outcome of the trial to determine whether that status will change.

In the previous game before the brawl, three Peoria batters had been hit by pitches. In the next game, a Peoria player was hit in the top of the first inning, then Castillo hit two Dayton batters in the bottom half -- one in the head. The second batter hit by Castillo, Angel Cabrerra, made an aggressive slide into second to break up a double play.

Castillo followed that by throwing his next pitch up-and-in, prompting Dayton manager Donnie Scott to complain to the home plate umpire. Interim Peoria manager Carmelo Martinez came onto the field to join the discussion. The two managers began arguing, and when Martinez pushed Scott, the benches emptied.

Video from the game shows Castillo throwing a ball, but doesn't show where the ball landed.

Officials in the Midwest League suspended and fined 15 players and both managers for the fight.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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