Castro slump a mystery

June, 8, 2013
6/08/13
4:10
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
 Starlin CastroJerry Lai/USA TODAY SportsStarlin Castro was hitting .250 with three home runs and 21 RBIs entering play Saturday.
The season-long hitting slump that has affected Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has been somewhat of a mystery to the 23-year-old two-time All-Star. Castro has been dealing with an ineffective approach for most of the 2013 campaign. The infielder's batting average, as well as his power numbers, has been subpar and getting worse as the season has gone on.

Castro was hitting .250 with three home runs and 21 RBIs entering play Saturday. Those are hardly the production numbers the Cubs were expecting when they signed him to a seven-year, $60 million contract in the summer of 2012.

"He hasn’t lost bat speed," said manager Dale Sveum. “It is the timing. Once the movement is going on when the ball is being delivered, the ball will get in deeper than you really think. Everything may be OK in your mind, but here is a timing mechanism that just isn’t working.”

The leg kick has been the stumbling block for the young Dominican shortstop.

“I am trying to keep my mind positive," Castro told ESPNChicago.com. “The coaching staff has helped me to keep my mind positive. Slumps happen. ... This one has been tougher because it’s the longest one I have had. I keep my mind free and stay positive. When I get hot, I will stay hot.”

Although Castro hit a three-year low of .283 in 2012, his career batting average was .297 entering the 2013 season.

"I don’t feel that much different, but I have not hit the ball hard consistently,” he said. “Remember, even when I had 200 hits, I had my slumps and sat out a couple of games [in 2011]. I don’t worry. I just keep working hard on my game."

Sveum said he is considering giving Castro a day off soon.

"It’s getting closer,” Sveum said of a mental health day for his shortstop. “I am thinking about it more, I should say. When we gave people days off because of struggles, it isn’t physical. It is just usually a mental day off to sit back, watch and get a breather.”

Castro has not had an off day since 2011. The Cubs shortstop played all 162 games in 2012 and the entire 58-game schedule so far this season.

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Starlin Castro
BA HR RBI R
.284 13 64 53
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Rizzo 29
RBIA. Rizzo 69
RA. Rizzo 80
OPSA. Rizzo .896
WJ. Hammel 8
ERAT. Wood 4.86
SOJ. Arrieta 122