6/11 Extra bases

* Theo Epstein wasn’t worried about shortstop Starlin Castro, who was 4-for-42 (.095) and batting .243 overall.

“I just think he’s in a slump and he’s going to turn it around pretty soon,” Epstein said Tuesday. “It’s tough, and I feel bad for him that he’s going through this and obviously, we’d love better production, and hopefully we will get better production going forward. In a way, it shouldn’t be unexpected. Baseball is a game of failure and adjustments. You’d like your players to fail in the Minor Leagues so they see what it’s like and come to terms with that and make their adjustments. Starlin is so talented that he has never really failed before, so this is the first extended stretch of failure that he’s had.”

Castro never played at the Triple-A level, and has 995 Minor League at-bats. He is one of the core players the Cubs are relying on, Epstein said.

“In the long run, I think this will be good for him,” Epstein said. “He’ll find his way out of it, and be a better player for it, and the
next time he falls into a slump he’ll know how to get out of it quicker. I think Starlin’s approach will evolve over the
years as it does for most players when they get a few thousand at-bats under their belt.”

* Cubs officials enjoyed watching video of Javier Baez’s four home run night on Monday.

“It was quite a show,” Epstein said. “He sprayed it around, covered different parts of the strike zone, different pitches. His swing is really under control and that’s the great thing about Javy and his bat speed. He doesn’t have to swing for the fences. He can take a nice, normal under control swing, the type that would normally produce a line drive or a ball in the gap, and in his case there’s plenty of carry over the fences.”

Dale Sveum watched video of Baez’s blasts.

“I wish I could’ve seen where they landed,” Sveum said Tuesday. “The swings were pretty good. I’ve been watching the video anyway, but one good thing about it is he’s calmed down. He’s cut down his movement [on his swing] about 40 percent, 50 percent. It’s a lot more calm and controled.”

Baez, 20, the Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2011, was batting .291 with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs in 57 games. He’s also been charged with 26 errors.

“A lot of his errors have been extreme plays at the end of his range or weird things on rundowns or trying to do too much,” Epstein said. “He needs to polish that up. We actually feel better at this moment about his ability to play shortstop every day in the big leagues than we did on Opening Day because of the way he’s playing shortstop. He needs to clean it up but I have no doubt he can play shortstop at the big league level.”

* Kyuji Fujikawa underwent successful Tommy John surgery on Tuesday his right elbow. Orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure in Pensacola, Fla. An MRI in May revealed ligament damage to the reliever’s elbow. In 12 games this season, Fujikawa had a 5.25 ERA, giving up seven runs over 12 innings. This is his first season in the U.S. Major Leagues.

* Reliever Shawn Camp was scheduled to pitch one inning for Class A Kane County on Tuesday, his first Minor League rehab assignment since going on the disabled list with a sprained big toe May 22.

* Epstein is a little divided this week. He grew up a Boston Bruins fan but they are playing the Blackhawks in the NHL Stanley Cup final, which starts Wednesday in Chicago.

“Original six hockey is fantastic,” Epstein said. “The passion for the Hawks in town here reminds me a lot of the way it is for the ‘B’s in Boston. It’s going to be a heck of a series.”

And his pick?

“I’m hoping for a great series, good health all around,” he said diplomatically.

– Carrie Muskat

4 Comments

Although Epstein shows confidence in Castro turning it around, I think Epstein’s endorsement of Baez’s ability to play short at the ML level is a warning shot to Castro….nice to have options. If Baez makes it to the ML club soon (faster than anticipated) it is nice to have options. One could play second base? An infield of Bryant, Baez, Castro and Rizzo sounds promising. Not to mention Jr. Lake putting some pressure on all of them. Things are looking up as far as developing players. That will be Epstein’s calling card, not the Stewarts, Dejesus’s, Schierholtzs’ etc.

Pingback: Game Notes: Brooks Raley up. Theo speaks on Javier Baez and Starlin Castro. Plus Dioner Navarro, Henry Rodriguez, and other notes | Cubs Den

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