Starlin Castro rebounds nicely

PITTSBURGH -- Sometimes it's better to judge a player by looking at his slumps rather than his hot streaks. Every hitter is going to have some issues -- even the most successful get hits about only three times out of 10. For Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, the length of his slumps might be the difference between last season and this.

“Last game was tough for me at home,” Castro said after collecting three hits in a 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday. “[I was] looking at my video when I’m good, and it [worked] tonight.”

Castro went 1-for-5 against the Miami Marlins on Sunday at Wrigley Field while striking out three times. But he had two hits Saturday after going 0-for-8 over the previous two days. Before that was another three-hit day.

“He’s not too concerned about where he’s at,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said of Castro. “He just plays.”

Castro is hitting .276 after falling a triple short of the cycle Monday. A year ago on this date he was hitting just .243. That 33-point differential is the difference between prolonged slumps and limited ones. Castro done the latter this season after so many trying times last. And he continues to play every day.

“If I need [a rest] I go tell you,” Castro said. “Let that be my decision. I feel good.”

At this time last year Castro was in the midst of a 2-for-34 slump. It wrecked his season. But every time the 24-year-old hit a rough patch in 2014, he has responded. There was a 1-for-13 in early May, but that was quickly followed by a 6-for-13 run. Even an 0-for-17 streak was followed by seven hits in his next six games. This year Castro has a response. And after his eighth home run Monday night he's only two shy of his 2013 total. Everything just feels better this time around.

“I’m just feeling good,” he said recently. “If I don’t do it on defense I need to do it at the plate. I’m not thinking, I’m just hitting.”

And his resurgent year continues.