Cubs make commitment to Starlin Castro

683414.png

Cubs make commitment to Starlin Castro

MESA, Ariz. This will be a pivotal year for Starlin Castro, who just turned 22 and has already played in an All-Star Game and led the National League in hits. Hes seen his image up on billboards and his name in the news for the wrong reasons.

The Cubs think their most dynamic player will show more power, more focus and more maturity in 2012. Manager Dale Sveum knows the numbers werent good when Castro hit third last season .225 in 178 at-bats but remains committed to the idea.

Hes still the best hitter on the team, and sometimes for the future of the team you have to do it, Sveum said before Saturdays 3-3 tie with the Los Angeles Angels. When do you do it to a good young hitter? Does anybody really know that answer? So its just something I committed to (and) hes been committed to it.

Its just time, and I think for the future of the franchise its best to get him in there now.

If you ask Castro about his goals for this season, he immediately talks about playing better defense. Sveum, an old shortstop, made that a point of emphasis from Day 1, showing Castro how to gain ground and attack the ball.

Ive seen quite a bit of improvement the work ethic is better, Sveum said. Hes learned that he has to slow his feet down after he catches the ball to make accurate throws. Hes got a great arm. You dont need to speed that arm up (because his feet are) too fast. That gets a lot of young guys in trouble.

But hes been very, very receptive of everything Ive asked him to do. Now, hes still a guy have to not stay on as far as jumping his butt every day but you give him goals each day when hes working.

Sveum has set the scale 1 to 10 for the drills and asks Castro grade himself out. Sveum has heard Castro come in and say: Hey, I was a 10 today.

I was like, Nah, you dont think I was watching? I saw that one little throwaway 10 is perfect, Sveum recalled. Sveum also said that Castro is usually honest, and has given himself an 8, which his manager thinks is unacceptable at the major-league level.

This will be the interesting back-and-forth between an old-school manager and a potential star with a lot on his shoulders.

Morning Update: Cubs crush Pirates; White Sox beat Rays; Bulls host media day

Morning Update: Cubs crush Pirates; White Sox beat Rays; Bulls host media day

Here are some of the headlines from yesterday's busy day in Chicago sports:

Preview: Cubs back at it in Pittsburgh tonight on CSN

Preview: Chris Sale starts for White Sox against Rays tonight on CSN+

Wade in Bulls jersey: same material, different reality

Jay Cutler remaining Bears starter not assured when he returns from thumb injury

Blackhawks: Keith unlikely to play first four preseason games

Kyle Hendricks, Kris Bryant help transform Cubs into 100-win team

James Shields gets first win in two months as White Sox beat Rays

Bulls begin 'necessary' new era by creating a culture 'to take steps forward'

What Cubs need to see during finals week before playoff test

Five things to watch during Bulls’ training camp

Preview: Cubs back at it in Pittsburgh tonight on CSN

Preview: Cubs back at it in Pittsburgh tonight on CSN

The Cubs take on the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Catch first pitch at 6 p.m. with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Starting pitching matchup: John Lackey (10-8, 3.39 ERA) vs. Ryan Vogelsong (3-6, 4.85 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Cubs Pulse.