3/24 Castro: “I feel great”

Starlin Castro celebrated his 24th birthday on Monday by playing in a Minor League game and passed all the tests. The Cubs shortstop said he’s “real close” to being ready for a Cactus League game and expects to be ready Opening Day. He did not have a ball hit to him at short, and at the plate, did deliver a RBI single.

“I feel great, really good,” said Castro, who has been sidelined since he strained his right hamstring on March 2. “I tried to do all the moving, and I feel pretty good.”

What’s next? Castro wanted to play in another Minor League game but will take BP and do some defensive work. He’d rather play.

“I got my rhythm, have to stay in my rhythm,” he said.

How close is he to being ready?

“Really close,” Castro said. “I don’t know the day now to play in a big league game, but I can say I’m really close. I got a base hit over there and was running hard and turned and felt pretty good, didn’t feel anything.”

He tested his leg, moving on foul balls, and on balls not hit to him.

“I got a feel for where I’m at and I feel pretty good,” he said.

What else does he have to do to prove he’s ready?

“Nothing, just play the game,” Castro said. “It’s not the same intensity over there in the Minor Leagues as the big leagues.”

As for his birthday, Castro planned to celebrate with family, including his son, Starlin Jr., who will turn 1 years old on Friday.

— Carrie Muskat

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