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Saturday, June 21, 2014
The blame is off Starlin Castro

By Jesse Rogers

Cubs
Anthony Rizzo believes that Starlin Castro's troubles of last season are in the past.
CHICAGO -- The resurgent season of Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has given manager Rick Renteria a chance to go on the offensive in defending his would-be All-Star.

“He’s a guy that in my humble opinion, when it starts raining, it’s his fault,” Renteria said before the Cubs played the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night. “When there’s an automobile accident, it’s his fault. Think that’s kind of unfair. I think he’s a guy that does thrive on positive reinforcement. Frankly most people do.”

Renteria was speaking in past tense of course. Castro’s issues of a year ago are well documented but this time around he’s on pace for 25 home runs and 98 RBIs after a 10/44 season in 2013. Plus, he’s hitting .290. But is Renteria being fair? Didn’t Castro bring on his own woes with mental lapses and a failing approach at the plate? No one blamed him for the overall issues of the Cubs -- just his own.

“He’s relaxing,” Anthony Rizzo said. “Last year is behind him. He’s playing loose. At shortstop as well. Everything is carrying over.”

Renteria refuses to take credit for Castro’s resurgence. He thinks he needed to experience the ups and downs to get to the place he’s in now. And everyone -- past and present -- had a positive hand in what he has become, according to the Cubs manager.

“Because of them he’s doing better, not despite them,” Renteria stated. “He takes the good of everyone that’s been here through the years and tries to apply them. I just happen to be here right now, and the coaches, and happen to be the beneficiaries of all those bumps and bruises.”

Can we simply agree the criticism of Castro last season was warranted as much as the praise is this year? In spring training, Renteria recalled an incident in 2013 when Castro allowed a runner to tag up from third on a pop up in very shallow left field. He thought the criticism was too much, claiming everyone makes mistakes like that.

But Renteria didn’t address the repetitive nature of those mistakes. That’s why the public backlash. That and the fact he was already a two time All-Star, having set the bar rather high.

None of that matters now as the past is in the past as Rizzo indicated. What everyone can agree upon is that the Cubs shortstop should make the All-Star team coming off a season where people wondered if he should even continue to be a Cub. That says a lot about his turnaround.

“It would be a great comeback for me,” Castro said. “It was one of my goals this year. I’m not thinking. I’m just going in there and having good at-bats. Be aggressive. Nothing bothers me right now. We’ll see.”