ANAHEIM, Calif. – Starlin Castro viewed this as a temporary fix, hitting seventh for a few games before moving back up to the No. 2 spot and continuing his quest for .300. The All-Star shortstop has never lacked for confidence.
But after a 2-for-20 homestand and a May in which Castro hit zero homers and posted a .608 OPS, Cubs manager Dale Sveum felt like he had to do something.
“It’s just a way of hopefully letting him kick back and relax in another spot and see what happens,” Sveum said before Tuesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels.
To be clear, this wasn’t the manager dropping the hammer or calling out Castro, who began the day hitting .258 overall, and only .208 against left-handers, a 100-point drop from his career numbers.
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Sveum acknowledged that Castro has been hearing a lot of voices, between the coaching staff trying to convince him to give up his leg kick and do more damage and the newish organizational philosophy of grinding out at-bats.
“As much as everybody else wants him to walk more and all this stuff and see pitches,” Sveum said, “sometimes it can be a detriment to some guys because they only know how to hit one way and it’s very difficult (to change).
“If Vladimir Guerrero went up there and tried to take pitches, what would his career have been? So you never know. I’m not saying there’s a right or wrong (way). But a lot of pressure sometimes gets put on and sometimes guys are what they are with the way they hit. Sometimes you have to accept that.”
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That’s been difficult for Cubs fans and the Chicago media to accept, seeing the age-23 potential, nearly 600 career hits and seven-year, $60 million contract and wanting more.
No one else in the clubhouse has his game dissected quite like Castro on sports radio, talk shows, in print and online.
“We know it does, but that’s part of a big market,” Sveum said. “Just like the Derek Jeters of the world, those guys are going to get dissected. They’re playing in a prime spot in a big market in a very noticeable (position). He’s had a lot of success very early in his career. It’s a good thing they put themselves in that position to be dissected.”
It would be interesting to watch Castro in a pennant race and see how he might raise his game, or how he would respond if all the lineup questions didn’t revolve around him. Maybe now he’ll just step into the box and hit.
“Every time I’m going to be aggressive,” Castro said. “To go up there and take a walk – not everybody has that ability. I want to go up there and swing. And when I look at the video, (I’m doing) the same thing I did before (when I hit .300). I’m just a little bit slow. I keep working. I know I’ll get out of it, especially now, maybe hitting seventh (will help). If (this goes) good, then it’s back to second and stay hot again.”