Results tagged ‘ Starlin Castro ’
The Cubs might want to save Dale Sveum some time and have lineup cards printed with Anthony Rizzo’s name in the No. 3 spot after the first baseman signed a seven-year, $41 million contract extension on Monday that includes two club options.
“In my position, it’s nice to have a guy projected for 30 [homers] and 100 RBIs in your lineup for the next seven to whatever years, especially with his makeup and defensive ability,” Sveum said Monday. “It’s pretty important to all of us — the city and the organization — to have somebody like that locked up for that long. It’s a pretty special day for all of us.”
Rizzo, 23, is the second young Cubs player to receive a long term extension. Shortstop Starlin Castro was rewarded with a seven-year, $60 million contract last August.
“Now, you don’t have pressure,” Castro said. “You have your contract, your family is good. The only thing you have to put in your mind is play hard and help your team win.”
With the two signings, GM Jed Hoyer has sent a clear signal as to who they plan on building the team around.
“This is just the base and the start of things to get these core players, those position players who you have control over for a long time and can stay here and be something special,” Sveum said.
Castro, 23, wasn’t surprised to see Rizzo get the large contract.
“I knew it was coming,” Castro said. “If it happened to me, I think the next one was him.”
Who’s next? Castro wouldn’t say. But Rizzo does give young players the same message.
“[The front office] has been watching me since I was 17,” Rizzo said. “They’ve seen me develop, they’ve seen me make my mistakes, and they’re going to continue to see me develop and do good things and bad things. What I tell the young guys is work hard. You can always control working hard. Once you get labeled as slacking off by one coach, that can stay with you for a long time. That’s the message I try to send.
“Last year at this time, I was in Triple-A and wondering when that call was going to come,” Rizzo said, “and it’s just the hard work pays off. Five years ago at this time, I was in a hospital waiting on my first treatment for cancer. It’s crazy how everything has come full circle.”
Now, the focus is on playing winning baseball.
“The only thing I think about is that, winning here,” Castro said. “I know it’ll be unbelievable. That’s why those people up there started signing players for long-term deals, to be here when the team becomes good every season. I think it’s very soon.”
– Carrie Muskat
Starlin Castro got a long-term deal last August and Anthony Rizzo received a new contract on Monday. What about Jeff Samardzija?
“It’s not really important to me, to tell you the truth,” Samardzija said. “I’m the type of guy who the play speaks for itself and if you’re healthy and do everything you’re supposed to do like those guys do and most importantly, do what it takes to win ballgames, that’s what it’s all about. I’m a little older than they are — I wouldn’t mind being 22 or 23 again — but baseball wise, I’m still pretty young. That stuff comes as the game goes.”
In Spring Training, Samardzija said he wanted to pitch first, and then talk contract. That’s still the way he’s looking at it.
“We’re still in only the second month of the season,” Samardzija said. “Coming in and starting Opening Day and pitching every fifth game from there, I’ve felt great. I’m excited to get into the summer and get into August and get toward that high innings count and see where I’m at as a starter. Nothing has changed. The games that happen out here are the most important for me personally.”
He didn’t ask to table negotiations.
“I know they have a lot of things on their minds right now,” Samardzija said of the Cubs front office. “We have an understanding that we both want to be here, and both want me here, and that’s a great place to be. It’s up to me to do my job on the field.”
The right-hander recognizes that players are paid based on what they do on the field.
“I want my play to determine how everything goes down,” he said. “I have high expectations for myself and this team. That comes first. I feel everything after that will fall into line for me personally.”
– Carrie Muskat
* Starlin Castro was the Cubs’ leadoff man Friday by default.
“It’s just kind of process of elimination, really,” manager Dale Sveum said of his lineup against Nationals lefty Ross Detwiler. “The two choices were him and [Cody] Ransom, and having Ransom in the lineup, hopefully, he’ll hit a home run and I’d like him to do it with somebody on base.”
David DeJesus is the Cubs’ leadoff man against right-handed pitchers and Sveum was using outfielder Dave Sappelt there against left-handers but Sappelt was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Monday after batting .178 in 20 games with the Cubs. The other possibility against southpaw starters is Julio Borbon, Sveum said.
“He’s one of those hitters where he’s going to be the same hitter no matter where you put him in the lineup,” Sveum said of Castro.
Castro was looking forward to the switch.
“I like it,” Castro said. “Wherever he puts me, I’ll do my job.”
* When Kyuji Fujikawa last pitched for the Cubs in mid April, he was the closer. On Friday, the Japanese right-hander was activated from the 15-day disabled list and won’t be used in the late innings, Sveum said.
“We’ll ease him in right now to make sure everything is good — velocity, command, life,” Sveum said. “We’ll ease him into whatever situation, sixth, seventh inning, depending on the score of the game, obviously.”
Said Fujikawa: “Who knows what role I’ll play in? Whatever the manager says, I’ll pitch in that role.”
Fujikawa, 32, has been sidelined since April 13 with a strained right forearm. In five relief appearances with the Cubs before he was injured, Fujikawa was 1-0 with two saves and a 12.46 ERA. He did not like being sidelined.
“I let the team down, so I would like to contribute more,” he said.
* Edwin Jackson caught up with his former teammates on the Nationals prior to Friday’s game. On Saturday, it’ll be all business when the Cubs right-hander faces Washington and Stephen Strasburg.
“It’s going to be fun,” Jackson said. “I get to face 98 [mph] tomorrow. I talked to ‘Stras’ and told him I’ll be ready to swing it. Once the game starts, it’ll be no friends and they’ll be trying to get me and I’ll be trying to get them.”
Jackson signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Cubs in the offseason and enters Saturday’s game 0-5 with a 6.39 ERA.
“It’s been a slow start, to say the least,” he said. “It’s not exactly how I had it envisioned. I feel good mentally, physically. I’m ready to go. I’ll continue to work hard and continue to grind out the season and finish strong.”
* The Cubs traded infielder Alberto Gonzalez to the Yankees for future considerations. Gonzalez made the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, primarily to help in the infield while Darwin Barney was on the disabled list. In 11 games with the Cubs, he was 5-for-23 (.217).
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs open a three-game series against the Nationals in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Jeff Samardzija gets the start while the Nats counter with lefty Ross Detwiler. Starlin Castro is batting leadoff for the first time this season. Here’s the lineup:
* In 74 games as the leadoff man, Castro has a .319 average, .362 OBP, .459 slugging. He’s a .297 hitter batting second, .282 batting third, .296 batting fifth.
* The Cubs are 7-4 against teams that finished below .500 last year, and 6-17 against winning clubs.
* The Cubs batting .273 in 18 games at Wrigley Field; .207 in 16 road games.
* The Cubs did win eight of first 10 games at Nationals Park, but have gone 1-7 in the last eight games.
* Travis Wood (.179), Scott Feldman (.200), Carlos Villanueva (.209), and Jeff Samardzija (.210) rank third, seventh, 11th and 13th in the National League in opponents batting average.
– Carrie Muskat
Tuesday marked the anniversary of Starlin Castro’s call-up to the big leagues. On May 7, 2010, the shortstop was promoted from Double-A Tennessee to the Cubs, and hit a three-run home run in his first at-bat in Cincinnati.
Since that day, Castro, 23, leads all National League players with 477 games played and is tied for sixth among big league shortstops with 200 RBIs in that span. His 567 hits since his debut lead the NL and rank fifth-most in the Majors. Miguel Cabrera leads all players with 587 hits in that span. Castro’s 101 doubles since his debut rank seventh-most in the NL.
The shortstop entered Tuesday’s game having hit safely in 25 of his 29 games. He also had a 14-game hitting streak from April 6-22, and batted .317 in that span.
Does Cubs manager Dale Sveum see progress with Castro?
“There’s progress since the day he got here,” Sveum said, “but I think it’s still a work in progress with some mental things at shortstop. If he wants to get to another level swinging the bat, there’s still a lot of improvement that can happen there to get the OPS higher. It comes and goes with him as much as anything. There’s still quite a bit of improvement that can happen on both ends.”
Part of the adjustments that need to be made involve Castro’s timing at the plate.
“He has such unbelievable hand-eye coordination,” Sveum said. “He fouls a lot of balls off and does a lot of things. He has to take advantage of hittable fastballs.”
– Carrie Muskat
Scott Feldman had every reason to be pumped Monday night. The right-hander was coming off his first complete game and facing his former team, the Rangers, who he started with back in 2003. One of the reasons Feldman signed with the Cubs was the chance to be a full-time starter, something he couldn’t do with Texas. If he had something to prove, he did so calmly, following the same game plan he did against the Padres in his last start, and now the right-hander leads the Cubs in wins.
Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo both hit two-run singles in a five-run fourth and Rizzo added a two-run home run in the eighth to back Feldman, who helped himself with an RBI single, to give the Cubs a 9-2 victory over the Rangers.
“He was commanding every pitch,” Welington Castillo said of Feldman, who held the Rangers to two hits over seven innings but had to leave because of a hand cramp. “He executed the pitches and he got out of the innings. He made the pitches when he needed to make them — that’s not an easy lineup to face. I give all the credit to him.”
The only problem Feldman had was with his right index finger in the eighth. He fell behind in the count 2-0 to David Murphy opening the inning, and was then lifted because of cramping. What happened?
“It was weird,” Feldman said. “I threw my last warm-up pitch and my finger was getting stuck. I tried to stretch it out and do a couple more throws. Finally, on the last one, I realized it wasn’t going to work.”
He had flown out to center in the seventh inning, and said the at-bat didn’t affect his hand. He did get a major confidence boost as the crowd of 32,618 cheered loudly when he was at the plate.
“I thought I was getting a standing [ovation],” Feldman said. “Then I came into the clubhouse and [clubhouse manager Tom Hellmann] had to burst my bubble and said it was because the Bulls won [against the Heat]. I thought I was raking.”
He was pitching. Feldman is the first Cubs pitcher to throw at least seven innings and give up three or fewer hits in consecutive starts since Rich Harden did so Aug. 11-19, 2009. It’s the first time in Feldman’s career he’s given up two earned runs or less in five consecutive starts, and he now has a 1.63 ERA in his last four starts.
“That’s really encouraging to see — that’s three or four really good outings in a row, especially two very impressive outings in a row,” Sveum said. “He’s got a feel for [his cutter] right now and it’s impressive, especially to go along with his two-seamer. He didn’t throw a whole lot of offspeed pitches tonight.”
The Cubs scored five runs in the fourth, all with two outs. Luis Valbuena doubled and the Rangers intentionally walked Darwin Barney, who was hitless in his last 16 at-bats. Feldman lined a single to left-center to score Valbuena, and make it 2-0.
“Anybody would do that, walk a big league hitter to get to a pitcher,” Feldman said. “Luckily, I was able to find a hole there.”
Feldman was originally scheduled to start against the Rangers in April but was skipped because his back tightened up. Was it tough to face his former teammates?
“I tried to relax out there but obviously I know a lot of those guys and have a lot of respect for them and had a great seven, eight years over there and made some good friends,” Feldman said. “When we’re not playing against them, I hope they do good, and on a night like tonight, I’m trying to get them out.”
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs rebounded from Thursday’s tough loss but it took until the ninth inning Friday to do so. The Cubs rallied for three runs in the ninth against Aroldis Chapman but came up short, 6-5, against the Reds. Manager Dale Sveum wasn’t sure what to expect after a heartbreaking 4-2 loss to the Padres on Thursday when Travis Wood threw seven shutout innings, but was hurt by two defensive lapses in the eighth.
“That was one of the tougher ones, if not the toughest loss we’ve had this year because it was kind of in our control,” Sveum said of Thursday’s game.
Chapman was 6-for-6 in save opportunities, but when he took over in the ninth with a 6-2 lead, it wasn’t a save situation. The Cubs loaded the bases on pinch-hit singles by Dioner Navarro and Dave Sappelt as well another base hit by Starlin Castro. Chapman struck out Anthony Rizzo and got Alfonso Soriano to fly out. Pinch-hitter Scott Hairston then drew a walk to force in a run, and Welington Castillo smacked a two-run single to center to close to 6-5. Pinch-hitter Cody Ransom walked to load the bases and chase Chapman, and J.J. Hoover struck out Darwin Barney to end the game.
“Those were some great at-bats today off the best closer in the game,” Sveum said of the ninth. “Hopefully, we can learn from that, too. Instead of waiting until a guy throws 98 [mph], we need to make those adjustments when a guy is throwing 94.”
What were the Cubs doing against Chapman?
“Be more patient,” Castro said. “The guy can throw strikes. If you take some pitches, he has to throw every pitch for a strike.”
“Sometimes you get hit,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s not a control thing. Sometimes you have to give hitters credit. They did some good hitting against Chapman.”
The Cubs did collect a season high 15 hits but also stranded 12.
“Everybody tried to do something because it was a tough game to lose yesterday,” Castro said. “Everybody was ready in the ninth inning.”
It was just too late.
“We’ve lost so many games by one run,” Carlos Villanueva said. “Really good teams, teams that are in the playoffs every year, the record is the other way and in one-run games, you come out on top. For us, we have to get it done when it counts. If it’s making a better pitch, having a better approach at the dish, we have to do whatever it takes to improve on that.”
– Carrie Muskat
* Kyuji Fujikawa, on the disabled list with a strained right forearm, threw his second bullpen on Thursday and the next step could be a rehab outing with Triple-A Iowa on Sunday.
“His command and everything was much better,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of the right-hander. “Everything looked a lot crisper than the other day [in his first bullpen].”
Fujikawa could start the Minor League game to make sure he gets one inning of work. However, the Cubs do want to have him pitch in relief to get into his normal routine in preparation for his return.
* Cubs third basemen have combined for seven home runs in 27 games, most in the Major Leagues, and more than half of the entire season total in 2012. Luis Valbuena has hit five and Cody Ransom two so far. Last season, Chicago third basemen combined for 12 home runs.
* Starlin Castro moved down from the No. 2 hole to fifth for the second straight game, but Sveum said the move was more to take advantage of Ransom’s numbers against left-handed pitching. Castro is the Cubs’ No. 2 hitter.
“I see [Castro] as a two-hole hitter,” Sveum said of the Cubs shortstop, who has a career .303 average batting fifth and a .299 average batting second. “When everything is set correctly, he’s really a two-hole hitter. A lot of times you’d like a left-handed hitter there to hook the ball, and right-handed catchers have trouble throwing when a left-handed hitter is in the batter’s box.
“On our team right now, he’s a two-hole hitter,” Sveum said. “Obviously, he’s a hand-eye coordination guy who will put the ball in play and doesn’t walk much so maybe he’s more apt to hit at the bottom or the order because he can hit into some double plays and things like that. For the team we have now, he’s the second hitter.”
Ransom was 6-for-16 with three home runs against left-handed pitchers so far; Castro was batting .206 against left-handed pitching.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs close their four-game series against the Padres at Wrigley Field on Thursday. Travis Wood gets the start against San Diego lefty Eric Stults. Starlin Castro remains in the No. 5 spot in the lineup for the second day.
T. Wood P
* David DeJesus’ leadoff home run Monday was the 13th of his career.
* Starlin Castro singled in the third to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, tops in the Major Leagues and matching his career high.
* Carlos Marmol threw two scoreless innings, and now has six straight scoreless outings dating to April 8.
* Luis Valbuena has hit safely in nine of his last 13 games.
* Cubs starting pitchers rank third in the NL with a 3.11 ERA, but they have a 3-10 record. The relievers rank 12th in the NL with a 4.86 ERA. The team is batting .147 with runners in scoring position.
* Matt Garza will make a Minor League rehab start Wednesday for Double-A Tennessee, weather permitting.
* Ian Stewart was 1-for-3 with two RBIs Monday for Triple-A Iowa, and now is 2-for-20 in six games.
* On Tuesday, Carlos Villanueva faces Tony Cingrani at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
– Carrie Muskat