Castro shows that he can maintain focus

MINNEAPOLIS -- Starlin Castro is showing that some constructive criticism can go a long way.

The young shortstop didn’t give up on a play in the seventh inning Sunday after what looked to be another mental miscue, and covered a bad play by successfully making a tough one. In addition, he finished out the day with a hit and a run scored in each of his final three at-bats.

With the Cubs holding a 4-0 lead, Castro moved to his right to field a slow bouncing ball from the Minnesota Twins’ Drew Butera. But he appeared distracted by Trevor Plouffe running between second and third base and failed to field the ball.

Plouffe broke for home, but Castro was able to recover the ball in shallow left field and make a quick throw to the plate off his back foot for the out.

“That was a big play at that time,” manager Dale Sveum said. “If he didn’t pick up the ball and throw out the guy at home that’s where something snowballs and things get out of whack. It was almost a momentum changer and then a switched right back in our favor within a couple of seconds. That’s the heads up that you like to see from anybody all the time.”

It still is unclear how much constructive criticism Castro received recently. He might have had more than a casual reminder from his manager about focus when he forgot how many outs there were during a game earlier in the road trip at San Francisco.

Sveum said Sunday that he had a blow up recently and although he declined to be specific, he did say that he has witnessed some positives since then.

Castro certainly could have been the object of his ire. With loads of talent but the tendency to go to sleep at times, he can both befuddle and dazzle, and seemed to do it all in one play Sunday.

An inning later he showed his resiliency again when he went to his left to field a hard hit bouncer, took it off his chest but then regrouped to get the out at first base. After the play, Dempster acknowledged the play by pointing at his young shortstop.

The seventh-inning play was the one that Dempster marveled at most, though.

“It shows that as soon as the ball got away from him he hustled right after it,” Dempster said. “He made a really unbelievable throw when you look at it from his back foot to throw a strike to home plate.

“That’s the kind of ability he has and that’s why people harp on him so much about his attention out there on the field because he not only has the ability to do it at the plate but on the field as well. He has a chance to be a really special player and you see that with the plays he made today.”

Sveum, a former shortstop, might have been on Castro’s mind when the bouncing ball slipped away.

“A lot of guys might have put their head down because they made the error, but that was huge of him to jump on the ball and make a great throw, off-balance, to home,” Sveum said.