A lapse on the base paths Tuesday might have cost the Cubs a chance at a victory. On Saturday at Pittsburgh his failure to recognize that a slow runner was coming down the line led him to rush a throw and make an error.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Castro is often the victim of piling on from fans and media that point out his every mistake, while other players are held to a lesser standard. Sveum admits that he does it as well, though.
As a player with loads of natural talent, Castro manages to draw attention to his miscues. Now that he has signed a seven-year, $60 million contract, that focus figures to become even sharper.
Tuesday’s failure to hustle until the end of the play raised eyebrows, especially since the game ended in a 1-0 defeat to the Houston Astros. With Castro on third base and Dave Sappelt on second in the sixth inning, Darwin Barney lifted a fly ball to center field with both runners tagging up.
Both tried to advance, but Sappelt ended up getting thrown out at third. Castro’s run still would have counted if he crossed the plate before Sappelt was tagged out, but he didn’t run at full speed all the way to the plate.
It remained in doubt whether Castro would have gotten to the plate in time anyway, but by slowing up he only managed to raise the question of whether or not his lack of hustle all the way to the end of the play cost his team the tying run.
Of course Sappelt should be held just as accountable, if not more, since he did make the final out of the inning at third base. But Castro didn't help himself by not running hard all the way through the plate.
Only three days earlier, Castro was kicking himself for making an off balance throw to first base with the slow-running Rod Barajas coming down the line in the seventh inning. The Pirates scored the tying run, but David DeJesus gave the Cubs the lead a half inning later.
Castro’s miscue nearly cost Jeff Samardzija the chance at his first career complete-game victory.
“Yeah that was not the best awareness of who was running and obviously who hit the ball,” Sveum said. “You have plenty of time to set your feet. Even if you spun you could set your feet and make a strong throw.”
Samardzija was forgiving, but it wasn’t the first time one of Castro's defensive miscues came with the right-hander on the mound. Earlier this season while Samardzija was pitching in a game at San Francisco, Castro forgot how many outs there were.
Castro’s teammates have made note of the miscues, but also know that mental lapses can be fixed. Talent like his can’t be taught.
“Castro is a heck of a player, and when he’s into the game and pays attention to what’s going on there aren’t too many guys who are better,” Samardzija said this past weekend. “We depend on him and we’re going to need him for many years down the road.”
There was a compliment in there, of course. But there was also acknowledgement that mental blunders continue to happen.