Results tagged ‘ Starlin Castro ’
* In the second round of the First-Year Player Draft, the Cubs selected Missouri left-hander Rob Zastryzny, who compiled a 3.38 ERA in 13 starts, striking out 82 over 90 2/3 innings.
“Talking to the scouts and [scouting and player development director] Jason [McLeod], [Zastryzny] finished well and can get to 94 [mph], has four pitches, and is a real good competitor,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “Obviously, the record he had didn’t show because of the team he was on. I think the more impressive thing is how he got better each year and finished his season real strong. He’s a guy who gets on the mound and competes with his fastball.”
Zastryzny, 21, was 2-9 but the Tigers averaged 2.5 runs per start. The lefty ranks eighth all-time in Missouri history with 228 strikeouts.
* Starlin Castro batted seventh for the third straight game Friday. The shortstop, who was batting .256 overall, was 1-for-8 in the first two games there after hitting second most of the season. How long will Sveum keep Castro lower in the order?
“I have no idea,” Sveum said. “There’s no timetable on it. Hopefully, we get him back swinging the bat and having quality at-bats and hitting the ball hard. It’s not even seeing thatt he gets hits but more the at-bats and hitting the ball hard.”
* The Cubs pitchers set a National League record with 19 RBIs in the month of May but success does have a price.
“Hopefully, they have as good a month in June as they did in May,” Sveum said. “They out-produced some of the other spots in the lineup. Not putting a downer on it, but now they get pitched a little tougher.”
* No date has been set for Kyuji Fujikawa’s surgery on his right elbow. Fujikawa needs Tommy John surgery, and the team has been waiting for the swelling to subside before setting a date. Reliever Shawn Camp threw his second bullpen Friday since going on the disabled list with a sprained right big toe. He’s making progress, Sveum said, as is reliever Rafael Dolis, on the DL with a strained forearm.
– Carrie Muskat
Dale Sveum decided to make it a little easier on struggling Starlin Castro and dropped the shortstop to seventh in the lineup. Castro has primarily batted second this season, but he entered Tuesday’s game 2-for-20 in his last five games, and was hitless in his last two games. He’s batting .258 overall.
“It’s good,” said Castro, who was dropped in the lineup by previous Cubs managers as well. “If a player is struggling a little bit, putting pressure on himself, he can come back good. This won’t be forever.”
Sveum wasn’t sure how long he’d keep Castro lower in the order but thought he would stay with it for the two Interleague games against the Angels.
“I told him it could change in the next couple days,” Sveum said. “With two American League games, you don’t have to worry about the eight spot. It’ll be that way for these two games. It’ll be a way for him to kick back and relax in another spot.”
Castro has batted .300 each of the last three years at this point in the season. His biggest drop has been against left-handers this year. He was batting .208, and he has a career .308 batting average.
“It’s a little bit tough in the beginning right now,” Castro said. “I know it won’t be like that for a year. I’ve got four months left and hopefully you’ll see a difference. I know I can do more than that.”
The Cubs have tried to get Castro to alter the high leg kick he uses. Sveum seems to be losing that battle.
“We’ve talked about some things with his mechanics,” Sveum said. “When you have a leg kick, you have to be careful about having your hands drift when your front foot hits the ground. [Anthony] Rizzo has a little bit of the same problem a lot of times. It’s a fine line.”
Part of the problem, Sveum said, may be that Castro is trying to change his approach and take more walks and improve on his on-base percentage. It’s something the Cubs have stressed. The problem is, Castro isn’t that kind of hitter.
“He’ll be the first one to tell you, even though his numbers against right-handers are better, he’s still not centering the baseball,” Sveum said. “He’ll get some hits to keep his head above water but he’s not hitting the ball hard consistently.”
– Carrie Muskat
Alfonso Soriano will be the designated hitter Tuesday night and Starlin Castro was dropped to seventh in the batting order for the Cubs. Castro batted .252 in May. Here’s the lineup:
This has not been a good road trip for Starlin Castro. The Cubs shortstop entered Sunday’s game 4-for-21 in the five previous games against the Pirates and Reds, and was batting .265 overall, and .250 this month. That’s not very Castro-like. He grounded out in his first at-bat Sunday, then hit a double to left in the fourth for the first hit off Johnny Cueto.
“I feel really good,” Castro said before the game. “I’m working hard. I know it’ll change. It won’t stay like this for the whole year — I feel too good. They’re pitching me the same. If I keep doing my adjustments, keep staying aggressive, I know it’ll change.”
He began the season well, batting .277 in April with a .420 slugging percentage. This month, he has a .304 slugging percentage, zero home runs and nine RBIs.
“The year, I hit 200 hits, that’s how I feel at home plate,” said Castro, referring to the 2011 season when he totaled 207 hits and batted .307. “Sometimes I feel too rushed and I know that’s not me. I have to be a little more relaxed and let your talent go. I feel good. I know it’s coming. I know I can be all right. I trust myself.”
Dale Sveum has said some of the players need to slow down to improve their approach at the plate.
“That’s one of the points is slow down,” Castro said. “[This has] never happened to me, never, and I get a little frustrated. That’s what I need to do is slow down. It’s not me, and good things don’t happen. I feel good, I have a good swing. Let’s see what happens.”
– Carrie Muskat
* Anthony Rizzo isn’t the only Cubs player who is struggling at the plate. Starlin Castro is 4-for-17 in the last four games, and his slugging percentage in May is .318.
“There’s not a lot of hard contact going on right now,” manager Dale Sveum said of the shortstop’s at-bats. “Getting to two strikes, he’s really expanding, and he’s got to make some adjustments, too. The league adjusts to him because of the way he approaches hitting.”
Castro entered Saturday’s game batting .270. Compare that to previous years. Castro was batting .328 on May 25, 2010; .330 on May 25, 2011; and .315 on May 25 last year.
* The leash comes off Matt Garza when he makes his second start since coming off the disabled list. Garza will start the series finale against the Reds on Sunday. He’ll be allowed to throw up to 110 pitches, depending on the situation and whether he has any stressful innings.
* Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and Scott Feldman have all homered this month, and, according to Elias, this is the first time three Cubs pitchers have done so in the same calendar month since Aug 1961 when Jack Curtis, Bob Anderson and Don Cardwell all went deep.
Cubs pitchers have 15 RBIs in May. Sveum joked that Feldman could bat third if he gives Anthony Rizzo a day off. What about using one of the pitchers in the Interleague games as the designated hitter against the White Sox?
“Don’t think I haven’t thought of that one,” Sveum said, laughing.
– Carrie Muskat
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