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Thursday, April 11, 2013
Castro still going through growing pains

By Jesse Rogers

Starlin Castro
Starlin Castro has three errors in nine games this season.
CHICAGO -- This was supposed to be the year Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro would put everything together and become a complete player.

Castro has gotten off to a rough start after nine games. He committed his third error of the season on Thursday against the San Francisco Giants, and it led to four unearned runs in a 7-6 loss. Striking out in the ninth with the tying run on second -- on a pitch way outside -- capped his awful day.

"I feel bad," Castro said of the error. "That's a play I have to make. That's a routine play with the pitcher running."

With Giants on first and second in the fourth inning and the Cubs leading 5-0, Ryan Vogelsong hit a grounder up the middle. Castro looked to have a bead on it without a problem.

"That one is not understanding the pitcher hit the ball and you had plenty of time," manager Dale Sveum said. "You didn't have to overcharge the ball and overcook that whole play."

The ball got by Castro and into centerfield, scoring the Giants' first run. They scored three more that inning. It's a physical error but it should count as a mental one, too. The same goes for his throw home on Tuesday night to gun down a Milwaukee Brewers' runner. With plenty of time he rushed it and threw it away.

"Have to be relaxed," Castro said. "Try to be too quick ... If it happens today it can't happen again. You have to know when you can be relaxed and when you can be fast and that will really help me."

He sounds like he's learning and if that's the case then these will viewed as growing pains looking back. Remember, the Cubs aren't winning anything this season, but it's important for the core guys to take the next steps in their evolution.

But Castro has been saying these things for a while now, and he said in spring training that this was going to be the year things would change.

"This year I concentrate more on my game plan," he said back in February. "Going to be perfect."


Forgetting the number of outs, forgetting the pitcher is running, rushing easy throws, it's all part of the same problem: a lack of concentration. So is being over-anxious at the plate. After vowing to take more walks, Castro has yet to earn a free pass. He whiffed in the ninth inning on a pitch a foot outside.

"He throws a good slider," Castro said of Giants closer Sergio Romo. "I did the best I can."

The effort might be there but the focus appears lacking. Maybe this is what Cubs' brass meant when they said things would "play out" regarding where Castro and top prospect Javier Baez would play. Currently both are shortstops but if Castro's growth stalls there then a move could be on the horizon.

Castro can always start taking more walks and hitting for a higher average and for more home runs this season, but he can't give back the errors. Three in nine games -- and there could have been more -- sets him on a pace for 54 errors. That will get anyone moved to another position.

"I can learn from that play and not have it happen again," Castro said.

Notes

Anthony Rizzo struck out looking to end the game. He never took the bat off his shoulders as the final pitch was borderline, on the inside corner. Rizzo was visibly mad at the plate after the call.

"I just disagreed," he said. "He made a good pitch. That's a situation we want to be in, just didn't come through today."

Nate Schierholtz was 3-for-4 including a broken bat infield single off of Santiago Casilla, his first hit in three tries off of a lefty this year. He also scored two runs and stole a base off good friend Buster Posey. Schierholtz is hitting .370.

The Quote
"We're going to have to get him out early to work on it because that's not acceptable." -- Sveum, on Feldman's issues covering first base in his first two starts.