Castro impressed by Baez's arrival

August, 7, 2014
Aug 7
9:36
PM CT
By Brent W. New
Special to ESPNChicago.com
Archive
DENVER -- Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro flutters around the team clubhouse like a moth around a porch light. He says he has been given a second wind, been tossed a baseball buoy, and because of it, his bleach-white smile hasn't dimmed for days.

Oh, you don't know why? No worries. A young Cub will be around town to drown your ear drums shortly.

[+] EnlargeStarlin Castro, Javier Baez
AP Photo/David ZalubowskiStarlin Castro, left, was calling for the promotion of Javier Baez last weekend, and he's already impressed by the rookie has brought to the Cubs.
Javier Baez, the team's hoarded prospect, kept his "Most Popular Man in Chicago" title intact Thursday when he went 3-for-4, knocked two home runs and drove in four runs in his third game in the majors, a 6-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

"It's pretty awesome. He's fun to watch," Castro said. "He's got a great swing -- he don't care whatever pitch it is. He's going to swing hard and [he] has the possibility to send it out."

Still listening ... what else?

"He's awesome, just awesome. We're really happy, not just me, but all the team. It's really fun for all of us," Castro said.

Well, that's awesome, Castro. Awesome squared. But honestly, can this love affair between a 21-year-old and a long-standing franchise really last? Is it pure or has Baez's big, flashy swing lured Cubs fans into an empty, one-night fling?

Ask manager Rick Renteria and he'll tell you he doesn’t think so. Unlike the headmaster of this parade, Castro, however, Renteria warns about the struggles awaiting his prized second baseman.

"He's a young man. He's still going to have his struggles. He's going to have great days, bad days, good days and not-so-good days. But it's all a part of the process," Renteria said.

Safe to say, Thursday -- although cloudy -- falls under "great." Baez blasted the ball in his third at-bat off the left foul pole and followed with a line drive over the right fence at Coors Field a couple of innings later.

When asked what he had in store for the next game, he casually shrugged, as he does a lot, saying, "I don't know, just play another game."

The Cubs' two-hole hitter went 1-for-11 to start his major league career before going perfect in his next three at-bats. Baez, who turned the heat up on his cold start in Triple-A this year, seems to be following suit in the majors.

Albeit faster.

"I started a little bit slow and then kept moving up every AB," he said.

How can you sustain that?

"No matter how many ABs I miss, I'm just going to keep doing my thing and get better," he said.

It has worked so far. And the Cubs, especially their star shortstop, have been reawakened. Does it mean a playoff run this year? In a video game, maybe. But what it does mean is with the arrival of Baez, and the expectations of more top-level prospects on the way, Cubs fans are allowed to be a bit jovial. The pieces of a competitive team are actually starting to fall into place.

Castro, meanwhile, who called for Baez's promotion over the weekend, will most likely stay upbeat. Moving forward, to the unknown, he says he will try to make sure Baez stays the same.

"I tell him to keep playing with heart, and now that you're here, just keep playing like you've played," he said. "He's good."

Baez will be welcomed to Wrigley on Friday.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Starlin Castro
BA HR RBI R
.292 14 65 58
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Rizzo 32
RBIA. Rizzo 78
RA. Rizzo 89
OPSA. Rizzo .913
WJ. Arrieta 10
ERAT. Wood 5.03
SOJ. Arrieta 167