9/14 Castro makes the adjustment

Starlin Castro recognized that he needed to make an adjustment, and he did. Castro hit a RBI single in the third inning Friday against the Pirates. But he changed his approach slightly in the sixth. The Cubs had one on and two outs when Jared Hughes took over. His first pitch hit Alfonso Soriano, and Castro launched the next pitch into the left field bleachers for his home run and a 7-3 lead. But Castro’s at-bat was key not just because of the cushion but because he recognized that he needed to alter his stance.

“That’s one of the best guys out of the bullpen,” Castro said of Hughes. “He throws a sinker, and the ball moves down hard. That’s why I was ready at home plate. I said, I don’t want to do a leg kick because I don’t want to be late. So I did one step and swung the bat.”

Sveum has suggested more than once that Castro needs to get rid of the leg kick.

“Those are the kind of things you’re looking for to see guys making adjustments from pitcher to pitcher,” Sveum said. “That’s when you start to grow as a player when you start doing those kind of things.”

Castro, who led the National League in hits last season, isn’t about to give up his kick totally.

“If a guy is nasty, I [don’t use the leg kick],” Castro said. “I do that with [Aroldis] Chapman, too. If you do a leg kick, you don’t have a chance with a guy who throws 98 [mph]. [Hughes] doesn’t throw 98, but he throws 94 and it’s nasty.”

Castro has posted .300 batting averages in his first two seasons in the big leagues. He’s sticking with what’s comfortable.

“I’ve been doing my leg kick all my life,” he said. “I got 200 hits last year with the leg kick. I know it can work but I don’t want to be thinking too much.”

He did admit to thinking too much about his new contract, which was resolved on Aug. 28 when he signed a seven-year, $60 million deal.

“I put pressure on myself,” Castro said. “When my agent told me [about the contract], he told me not to think too much about that. I said, ‘Don’t call me. I don’t want it to be a distraction.'”

It was. From July 1 until Aug. 27, Castro batted .240 with a .694 OPS. Since he signed his deal on Aug. 28, he was batting .319 with an .881 OPS.

And now?

“Not anymore,” Castro said.

— Carrie Muskat

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