Juan Castro back with Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers purchased the contract of Juan Castro from Triple-A Albuquerque on Friday, marking the start of the veteran utility infielder's fourth stint with the club that originally signed him as a free agent out of Mexico 20 years ago.

To clear a 25-man roster spot, the Dodgers optioned utility infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr., who was hitting .194 (6-for-31) in two big league stints this season and was getting little playing time, to Albuquerque. To clear a 40-man spot, the team transferred catcher Hector Gimenez (left-knee surgery) from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list.

"Number one, Ivan needs to play,'' Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "It isn't doing him any good sitting on the bench and playing once every five or six days."

Castro, who will turn 39 next month, didn't make the team out of spring training, something he was told even before the team broke camp, so he stayed home in the Phoenix area rather than accompanying the team to Southern California for its final three exhibition games so he could consider whether he wanted to retire.

"I didn't know what I wanted to do,'' he said. "For four or five days, I thought about whether I wanted to continue playing the game. The Dodgers called me back and gave me a chance to go to Triple-A and play for a little bit, and I told them I would do that. I just appreciated the opportunity."

However, Castro told them he wouldn't stay in Albuquerque indefinitely.

"Probably a month, month and a half,'' he said. "But then I got hurt.''

After playing only four games in the Pacific Coast League, Castro suffered a left-oblique strain just four games into the season that caused him to miss almost a month. He returned just a week ago and since then had gone 5-for-13 in four games for the Isotopes. He is hitting .458 overall, with a .500 on-base percentage.

Castro can play second, third, shortstop and, in an emergency, first base.

Mattingly said that if Castro hadn't been injured at the time, he likely would have been the player called up when Rafael Furcal suffered a broken left thumb on April 11. Furcal still hasn't returned, but he is scheduled to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment with Albuquerque on Saturday.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.