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Pretrial conference set for Feb. 6

PITTSBURGH -- Florida Marlins catcher Ramon Castro pleaded not guilty Friday to charges he raped a woman in his hotel room last
August.

Castro was not required to be at his formal arraignment, so
defense attorney J. Alan Johnson entered the plea for him.

A pretrial conference will be held Feb. 6, when a trial date is
expected to be set.

Castro, a 27-year-old married father of two, remains free on
bond. Pittsburgh police charged him Aug. 28 with raping a
28-year-old woman early that morning in his hotel room while the
Marlins were in town playing the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He also was charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse,
indecent assault, sexual assault and unlawful restraint.

The rape charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in
prison but, because Castro has no criminal record, it's unlikely he
would receive such a sentence if he were convicted.

Castro signed a one-year $400,000 contract with the Marlins this
fall. The departure of Ivan Rodriguez means Castro and another
backup catcher, Mike Redmond, could play bigger roles for the
Marlins this season.

Redmond hit .240 with no homers in 125 at-bats in 2003. Castro
hit .283 with five home runs in 53 at-bats.