Aramis Ramirez can relate to the growing pains of Starlin Castro.
Ramirez, who signed a three-year, $36 million deal with the Milwaukee Brewers in the offseason after eight-plus seasons with the Cubs, can see from afar what he saw up close watching Castro grow into a big-league ball player.
“It’s not easy to live up to other people’s expectations when you are still learning about yourself,” Ramirez said. “I went through the same thing Starlin is going through as a young player in Pittsburgh. This kid has a lot of pressure on him, and he is just learning how to handle it.”
Castro made a mental error in a loss to the San Francisco Giants on Monday when he forgot how many outs there were in the inning and didn’t try to complete a double play. That wasn’t the first mental lapse this season for Castro, who pulled up on a steal attempt Friday because he thought Joe Mather fouled off the ball. Cubs manager Dale Sveum said on Monday those miscues would have to stop or Castro would be benched.
Castro, who is hitting .309, appears rejuvenated after a talk with Sveum on Tuesday. The Cubs have worked with Castro on his energy level and approach.
“Expectations got the better of me in Pittsburgh,” Ramirez said. “I felt like if I made an out, I was letting my team down, and I took those failures out on defense with me. Sometimes my defense suffered, and I wasn’t aware that I was still thinking about striking out or making some kind of out.”
Ramirez has a solution to the long-range plan in approaching Castro’s focus issues.
“Give the kid a break and stay positive with him,” Ramirez said. “Try to remember what it’s like to be 22 and still finding your way as a person. He seems to have a very good manager and coaches to help him learn, understand it takes a while to develop as a player and as a person.”
Ramirez, who is represented by the same agent as Castro, Paul Kinzer, believes Castro will be a great player before long.
“He has never hit under .300 since coming up at age 19. Do you know how hard that is,” said Ramirez, who pinch hit in the eighth inning Thursday for his only action of the series as he deals with a sore right knee. “He will be fine, but he has been through a lot and expectations are high for him.”