Game slips out of Starlin Castros hands

Game slips out of Starlin Castros hands

Monday, April 25, 2011
Posted: 9:55 p.m. Updated: 11:50 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

The Cubs watch Starlin Castro and see their shortstop get to balls they havent touched in years. His range and instincts are supposed to be that good.

And Castros offensive production has been so blinding that youve missed some of his defensive flaws this month. But it was impossible to ignore during the second inning of Monday nights 5-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

It began when Castro bobbled a ground ball that didnt seem like a big deal. The Cubs were already out to a 3-0 lead and had Matt Garza on the mound.

The conditions were perfect for a Big Ten football game. It was 43 degrees at first pitch and at certain points it was raining sideways. With runners on first and third and one out, Castro charged another ball and fumbled it on the handoff from his glove.

The ball was kind of wet, Castro said through an interpreter. I was trying to make the play. It was one of those things.

The next batter, Chris Iannetta, chopped one toward short and Castro tried to get the out at second base. His throw sailed wide to Darwin Barneys left, bouncing all the way into the bullpen in right-field foul territory, allowing two more unearned runs to score to tie the game.

Hes going to learn to play on tougher fields like this in these kinds of conditions, manager Mike Quade said. If youre in a hurry with a wet pig, youre in trouble.

You take a minute maybe you dont get to turn a double play. You make sure you get one. They dont have weather like this in the Dominican very often, so (its) another learning experience, but we got to get better (and) its got to happen pretty soon.

On the next play, Castro drew mock cheers from the crowd at Wrigley Field by making a routine throw to get the second out. His three errors marked the most for a Cub in a single inning since Jamie Navarro in 1996.

The Cubs grade on a curve because Castro is 21 years old, the youngest player in the majors.

But it didnt take long for the fans to turn on Castro, who got booed last May during his Wrigley Field debut. He committed three errors that night, but the breaking point was when he casually walked after a ball that skipped past him into shallow left field.

That got Castro called into Lou Piniellas office. Quade benched Castro for a few games last September as a response to some mental lapses, but has repeatedly praised his young shortstops maturity.

The Cubs didnt want to overwhelm Castro with leadoff responsibilities, but he excelled there so quickly (23-for-46) that hes getting more and more at-bats as the No. 3 hitter in the lineup.

Castro woke up on Monday tied for the major-league lead in hits with 35 and soon enough the All-Star buzz will start building.

This didnt seem to be as careless. It was just another reminder that at times Castro will have to slow the game down, even when everything else in his life is moving so fast.

Barney grew up as a shortstop in Oregon playing in the rain all the time. If Castro is who the Cubs project him to be, then he will have to get used to April in Chicago for years to come.

He did the best he could. (Thats) just how it goes, Barney said. He made the plays after that (and) showed some maturity there.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Preview: Cubs wrap up series with Nationals today on CSN

Preview: Cubs wrap up series with Nationals today on CSN

The Cubs take on the Washington Nationals today, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 2:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch 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.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jon Lester (5-4, 3.83 ERA) vs. Joe Ross (4-3, 5.40 ERA)

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Jake Arrieta doesn’t see fractures forming in Cubs clubhouse

Jake Arrieta doesn’t see fractures forming in Cubs clubhouse

WASHINGTON – An erratic, distracted, disconnected Cubs team got a pregame Moment of Zen at Donald Trump’s White House on Wednesday afternoon, a smaller group of players, staffers and executives going back to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for the second time in less than six months to celebrate their World Series championship.    

The Cubs showed up at Nationals Park and of course had new Joe Maddon T-shirts folded all over the chairs in the visiting clubhouse: “Embrace the Suck” superimposed on the Captain America shield. Miguel Montero’s locker was completely empty after injecting some truth serum into the group media sessions where the Cubs almost always insist that everything is fine and will be all right in the end.

But the Cubs are at an awkward, sensitive point here, 39-39 after an 8-4 loss to a first-place Washington team that saw reigning National League MVP Kris Bryant leave the game with a sprained right ankle and veteran pitcher John Lackey give up all eight runs as his ERA ballooned to 5.24.

Paying $7 million to make Montero go away won’t magically solve the problems. Even the guy who Montero targeted late Tuesday night after the Nationals stole seven bases didn’t really have a problem with the message or the messenger. 

“I’m sad to see him go,” Jake Arrieta said. “I love Miggy. As you guys know, he’ll say some things from the heart, the way he feels. He’s open and honest. That’s the way Miggy is. He regretted what he said. He felt bad about it. I told him that I’m not upset or mad at him. I didn’t even really see the comments, and I don’t care what they were. 

“I know what it was about – and there was a lot of honesty there. I didn’t do him any favors. I was slow to the plate and (Trea) Turner’s one of the fastest guys in baseball, so it just makes it look worse than it was. It’s unfortunate it had to happen that way, but it is what it is.”

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Arrieta took his teammates along for the ride when he transformed into a Cy Young Award winner in 2015. Montero had trouble hiding his frustrations with Maddon and diminished playing time, not exactly pumped about the idea of wearing a onesie on an overnight flight from the West Coast. Montero wound up catching Arrieta’s no-hitter that unforgettable night at Dodger Stadium.    

The clubhouse vibes now aren’t necessarily awful – to use a Maddon term to downplay the injuries that have decimated the roster – but something is clearly off here.  

“It’s been slightly different, honestly, just because we’ve been up and down so frequently this season,” Arrieta said. “As soon as we get on a roll, we kind of hit the skid. We win two, lose two, win one, lose one. It’s just been this back and forth sort of rollercoaster that we’ve been dealing with. 

“As far as the guys in here, everybody gets along great. We got good relationships. Sometimes, there can be a lull in the dugout from time to time. That’s just kind of the nature of the back and forth that we’ve had, ups and downs. 

“But we’re all on the same page. We know that we need to tighten some things up. And it’s not just in one area. We’ve pitched well at times. We’ve swung the bats well at times. 

“Obviously, last season we were able to kind of collectively do all of that at the same time. That’s what we’re searching for. We’re trying to find that consistency on both sides of the ball.” 

The ironic part is that Montero clung to the idea of being Arrieta’s personal catcher last season, hoping that connection would prevent him from getting bumped off the playoff roster, and now it got him designated for assignment.        

“I don’t think either way it would have fractured the clubhouse,” Arrieta said. “There are certain things that are handled behind closed doors, but Miggy wears his heart on his sleeve. That’s one of the main reasons we all liked him. But we’re going to move forward from this and embrace the guys that are here.”