Results tagged ‘ Starlin Castro ’
Dale Sveum decided it was time to give Starlin Castro a breather, and the shortstop did not start in Tuesday’s game against the Brewers. It was his first day off this year, and first day off since Aug. 22, 2011. Castro was batting .228 for the season, and .131 in June.
“I think sometimes you end up looking in somebody’s eyes to see when [the time is right],” said Sveum, who has been considering the move for a few weeks. “I don’t like to give any core players a day off at home. … When people pay a lot of money to see their favorite player, you don’t want to do that at home.”
The Cubs had Monday off, and Tuesday was the start of a three-city, nine-game swing.
Sveum said he felt Castro needed a mental break.
“I told him to think about tomorrow as a whole [new] season and not try to hit .300 tomorrow,” Sveum said. “It’s not going to happen. You can’t get four hits every at-bat and think you’re going to get your average back up there. There’s plenty of time left in the season to hit .330 and you can finish at .290 or .300.
“I told him you’re not the first really, really good hitter to be in these kind of slumps,” he said. “It’s part of everyone’s career.”
– Carrie Muskat
There’s been a lot of talk about Starlin Castro’s hitting mechanics. On Sunday, the Cubs shortstop was on the field working on his defense. Castro committed his 12th error on Saturday, the most in the Major Leagues. He, infield coach David Bell, bench coach Jamie Quirk and coach Mike Borzello joined Castro and second baseman Darwin Barney on the field before batting practice.
“There’s a lot of things in his defense that need to get better,” Dale Sveum said. “Today was working on his backhand, and trying to get more stable and have a base when you throw the ball and not be so off balance and understand the different things you have to have in your tool box with your backhand. … It was some things we have to get cleaned up.”
This hasn’t been a good year offensive for Castro, a two-time All-Star, who was batting .231. He began the year with a .297 career average in three seasons. Sveum didn’t see the 23-year-old infielder fretting too much.
“These are things everybody goes through and part of the adversity everybody goes through,” Sveum said. “Some guys have peaks and valleys. You’re going to go through this at some point in your career.”
This is the longest skid in Castro’s young career.
“People can go 25, 30, 35 years without any adversity in their life,” Sveum said. “You see what kind of man you are when you have to deal with adversity. Everybody has to go through it in life. Nobody said life was easy.”
– Carrie Muskat
Scott Feldman had never faced the Cardinals before Thursday, and after spending three days watching from the dugout, he discovered what everyone else already has: These guys are really good. Matt Holliday hit a tiebreaking RBI single and a solo home run to back Lance Lynn and lift the Cardinals to a 6-1 victory over Feldman and the sputtering Cubs, who dropped to 9-24 against the National League Central.
Feldman had to battle, and served up six hits over 5 1/3 innings, which was all the Cardinals needed. He dropped to 0-4 with a 6.65 ERA against NL Central teams.
“I knew going in that they had a good lineup and obviously, [Yadier Molina] is swinging the bat about as good as anybody I’ve ever seen right now,” Feldman said. “You’ve got to make your pitches and at the same time, be aggressive. I think you’ve got to tip your cap tonight. They did a great job and just beat me.”
Lynn did his homework, too. Chicago managed two hits in Wednesday’s 4-1 loss, and mustered three off Lynn over six innings as the right-hander picked up his 10th win to join teammate Adam Wainwright and Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann on top of the NL leaderboard.
“Coming here, we knew it was going to be tough to score runs and obviously, it was,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “We didn’t swing the bats at all. We only had five hits today, so seven hits in two days ain’t going to win too many ballgames, no matter how good your pitching is. Our starting pitching was pretty good in all four games against the best offense in baseball. We never really put any threats together. Today we weren’t too aggressive.”
After the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead on David Freese’s run-scoring groundout in the second, Welington Castillo tied the game with a leadoff home run in the third, his first since April 8. But the Cubs missed an opportunity in the fifth when they loaded the bases with two outs, and Lynn got Castro to pop up to Molina in foul territory.
“[Castro] is a guy who doesn’t scare from those situations,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “Getting the pop up was a big out for us.”
“I just tried to go see one pitch, and I hit it,” Castro said of the at-bat. “That team, they have pretty good pitching. [Lynn's] fastball is a little bit sneaky, and I tried to get on top and it didn’t happen.”
The Cubs shortstop finished the seven-game road trip 4-for-30, and he’s now batting .232 for the season. A year ago, he was batting .300.
“He’s not the Lone Ranger in all this,” Sveum said about Castro. “There isn’t a whole lot of hitting going on.”
Alfonso Soriano went 2-for-29 on the trip, while Anthony Rizzo was 5-for-21, and the Cubs completed the trip, 3-4.
– Carrie Muskat
* One year ago, Starlin Castro was batting .302, and headed to his second All-Star Game. The Cubs shortstop entered Thursday’s game batting .235 for the season.
“By his numbers alone, he’s regressed, there’s no question about it,” Dale Sveum said Thursday. “You’re getting way, way down as far as all the other shortstops in baseball as far as the offensive part. He’s under .600 OPS. That would go without saying that he’s regressed.”
Castro has played every game, and Sveum said he hasn’t given the shortstop a breather yet because he hasn’t found a good day. Castro has done well defensively. If he did sit, Cody Ransom would sub at shortstop.
Part of the problem has been Castro’s mechanics at the plate.
“He knows the formula,” Sveum said. “The rest is up to him. He knows the issues and the mechanical things that are different than when he first got up to the big leagues. It’s up to him to get all of that ironed out.”
* Third baseman Ian Stewart will rejoin Triple-A Iowa this weekend. Stewart’s 10-day suspension ends Saturday, and he will join the Cubs’ Minor League team when it begins a four-game series at Memphis. Stewart, 28, was suspended by the Cubs after venting his frustrations about his situation and Cubs manager Dale Sveum on Twitter on June 10.
* The Cubs have eight relievers, and could make a roster move this weekend to add a position player. They’ve been carrying an extra pitcher since outfielder David DeJesus went on the disabled list last Saturday. One option would be to activated catcher/infielder Steve Clevenger, who was rehabbing at Triple-A Iowa and was on the 60-day disabled list. Clevenger’s rehab time ends Saturday.
– Carrie Muskat
Shortstop Starlin Castro may have feared for his life when pinch-runner Shane Robinson came charging at him in the ninth inning Tuesday night, but the Cubs didn’t expect any repercussions after the game-ending play. The Cardinals trailed 4-2 in the ninth and had runners at first and second with one out. David Freese hit a grounder to second baseman Darwin Barney, who flipped to Castro for the force at second. Robinson, who was on first, slid hard into Castro and well off the bag, and second base umpire Fieldin Culbreth called interference on the play. The game was over.
After the game, Castro said: “I couldn’t throw the ball because he tried to kill me.” Fortunately, Castro could laugh after he said that.
“It was the right call,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Wednesday. “He’s trying not to end the game. Luckily, on our part, the umpire made the right call.”
Was it a dirty play?
“I hope our players would do the same thing in the same situation,” Sveum said. “You know the game’s over. He just slid too far away from the bag.”
Told about Castro’s comments, Sveum said he didn’t expect any repercussions.
“You’re trying to avoid having him throw the baseball and that’s all there was,” Sveum said. “There used to be a time when you could do that.”
– Carrie Muskat
Jeff Samardzija had studied film of the Cardinals for days, and couldn’t find any weaknesses, so he focused on what he could do best, and it worked. Samardzija picked up his first win since May 27 as the Cubs beat the Cardinals, 4-2, on Tuesday night to even the series.
“It’s a rivalry game, and with that aside, you have a respect for [the Cardinals] and how they play the game and how they set their lineup up, one through nine,” Samardzija said. “You know you’ve got to come at it. I’m watching film five days before, and trying to find some weaknesses, and you can look as hard as you want and you’re not going to find it. You just know your margin of error against this team is real small and you’ve just got to deal with it.”
Besides having to face the best offense in the NL and the team with the best record in the Majors, he also was up against 10-game winner Adam Wainwright, who entered with a 2.18 ERA. But Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ransom hit back-to-back home runs in the first off the right-hander to back Samardzija.
Samardzija was efficient and effective, giving up seven hits, including a solo home run to Carlos Beltran in the sixth, and striking out six over 8 1/3 innings. He exited after serving up two singles in the ninth. Kevin Gregg took over, and gave up a RBI single to unstoppable Yadier Molina. David Freese then hit a grounder to second baseman Darwin Barney, who flipped to shortstop Starlin Castro for the force at second. Pinch-runner Shane Robinson, who was on first, slid hard into Castro and well off the bag, and second base umpire Fieldin Culbreth called interference on the play. The game was over.
“[Robinson] wasn’t even close to the base and he had his cleats up,” Castro said. “I understand that you can try to break up the double play in that kind of situation but not like that. … I couldn’t throw the ball because he tried to kill me.”
Samardzija kept the Cubs infielders busy. There was only one flyout in the game, and that was when Matt Carpenter ended the eighth with a fly ball to right fielder Nate Schierholtz. The Cubs right-hander credited a tweak in his mechanics, which helped his fastball be more effective.
“I really wanted to kick this June bugaboo,” he said. “I’ve been working real hard and I just like where I’m at right now.”
In his career, he’s 2-8 with a 7.14 ERA in June, which includes an 0-4 record and 10.41 ERA in five starts last year in the month.
“The movement he had on his ball tonight and keeping hitters off balance and still throwing 96, 97 [mph] in the ninth inning, that’s huge, especially with how hot it is,” Sweeney said. “He kept the ball down and had his sinker going. Whenever you keep the ball down, that’s a plus for the defense.”
No Rizzo? No problem. The Cubs’ lineup was without Anthony Rizzo, who was given his first game off this season. Sveum didn’t say how long the first baseman would sit, just that he needed a “breather” after batting .157 this month. Rizzo is 3-for-6 against Jake Westbrook, who starts Wednesday.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs played their own version of overtime on Thursday, as pinch-hitter Julio Borbon hit a walk-off RBI single with two outs in the 14th to post a 6-5 victory over the Reds and avoid a four-game sweep. Maybe they were inspired by the Blackhawks, who beat the Bruins in triple overtime Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Cubs snapped the Reds’ Wrigley Field winning streak at 12, the longest by an opponent in franchise history.
“I feel a lot better now that we broke that streak,” Dale Sveum said. “If we have to play extra innings to beat them, we’ll play extra innings.”
With the game tied at 5, Starlin Castro singled to center against Jonathan Broxton. Anthony Rizzo struck out, and Castro stole second on the play, and moved to third when Alfonso Soriano grounded out. The Reds intentionally walked Nate Schierholtz, who hit two triples in the game, to face Borbon, who lined a 1-0 pitch to left.
“I was looking for a pitch to drive,” Borbon said. “I was looking for that pitch middle away to be able to stay on it, and I got it, and I was ready for it.”
The game-winning hit came five hours after the first pitch. Borbon kept loose on the chilly day by stretching in the weight room, but didn’t take any swings off the clubhouse batting tee.
“It’s my first walkoff,” Borbon said. “It was definitely worth the wait.”
Sveum thought the game might be over in the ninth when Castro smacked a ball off the outfield wall in left, and ended up with a double.
“He crushed that ball,” Sveum said. “That was a a shame — we would’ve been in New York by now.”
The six runs were unusual for the Cubs, who averaged 2.4 runs per game in their last eight games entering Thursday. This was Castro’s first game back in the No. 2 spot after being dropped to sixth and seventh for eight games.
“After today, I might put him somewhere else,” Sveum said.
Chicago pitchers combined to strike out a season-high 19 batters, and the relievers shut down the Reds for eight innings.
“It was a good team effort,” said Blake Parker, who struck out three over two innings in relief. “For me to go in a tight situation, and it’s the first game I’ve been in that’s a close game, and it felt good. It felt like I was right where I wanted to be.”
* This was the Cubs’ longest game since a 6-3, 14-inning win June 7, 2009, at Cincinnati.
* Jeff Samardzija gave up a season-high 10 hits. He’s now 0-1 with a 3.50 ERA in three starts vs. the Reds.
* Hector Rondon earned his first victory, striking out four over two innings. Carlos Marmol struck out the side in the 10th, and now has 701 career Ks.
– Carrie Muskat
After eight games in the bottom of the order, Starlin Castro was back in the No. 2 spot in the Cubs’ lineup on Thursday. The shortstop was dropped from second to seventh on June 4, and was inserted in the No. 6 spot on Wednesday. He went 2-for-28 in the eight games. Castro was batting .254 in 49 games in the No. 2 hole.
“We dabbled with it a little bit and obviously, the offense isn’t doing a whole lot with him down there,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Thursday. “It’s just getting back to where we were. He’s a guy who can swing the bat and we have all the confidence in the world he can come out of it. You need him up there more than three or four times. Hopefully, he can get that fifth at-bat.”
Castro isn’t the only one scuffling. Anthony Rizzo is batting .248, Darwin Barney .203, Luis Valbuena .238.
“There’s nobody right now who’s stepping up and doing anything in any position in the lineup,” Sveum said. “Sometimes you get to the point where you might want to pick the lineup out of a hat and see what happens.”
The Cubs were batting .158 in the last eight home games, and after Wednesday’s game, Rizzo mentioned that players aren’t having fun.
“Offensively, especially, you try to make guys understand these things are in cycles and go in cycles,” Sveum said. “You don’t use things as excuses but we’ve faced some pretty good pitching lately. You have to grind out the at-bats and all of a sudden it starts coming.”
– Carrie Muskat
Starlin Castro is back in the No. 2 spot in the Cubs lineup for Thursday’s series finale against the Reds. Here’s the lineup:
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was a guest on MLB Network’s “MLB Now” on Tuesday and talked with hosts Brian Kenny and Harold Reynolds about a few topics:
* On the bullpen’s struggles:
“I think we’ve outscored our opponents by 30-plus runs in the first six innings. But innings seven, eight and nine, we’re getting killed. Our bullpen hasn’t shut down games. We’ve tried to mix and match in the bullpen so far, but that’s been our biggest struggle. I think we’re a solid team, but ultimately, you look at the Pirates for example, they dominate teams at the end of the game and we’re not there right now. That’s our biggest struggle right now. That’s what’s really separating us from being a team that’s right around .500.”
* On the Cubs’ offense:
“We still need to get on base more. We’ve hit for some power this year, but the on-base percentage has been a struggle. I think until we get on base more and grind out at-bats – I watch the Reds play with Choo and Votto. We don’t have that quality of at-bat yet, so I think that’s really holding us back a little bit.”
* On getting Starlin Castro to be more patient:
“He’s a great hitter. I think by the end of the year he’ll be back up by .300 and he’s a hit-maker. I think, with him, he has power. He’s a strong guy. I think the biggest challenge for him is getting into those counts where you can drive pitches. You’re not gonna hit a lot of home runs 1-2 in the count. You need to be up 2-0, 2-1. He’s getting better at that. He’s still developing that, but I think his power will come if he gets in better counts.”
* On getting Castro to go deeper in counts:
“It’s one that we talk about all the time because this guy is a slasher. He’s a guy that barrels up pitches all over the zone. It’s a good question. Do you try to teach a guy like that to get on base more and to get in better counts or do you just let him be and let him get his 200 hits? I think that’s a big question. I don’t think he can be the type of power player we think he can be without getting in those counts.”