DENVER – Starlin Castro expected to make annual trips to the All-Star Game, but this time he used the break to recharge back home in the Dominican Republic.
After hearing so many voices about his swing and his approach, he showed up in Denver with a clear mind and felt that confidence again.
“I’m ready to go,” Castro said. “This second half is all mine.”
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Castro can’t become a .300 hitter again overnight, but the Cubs believe he’s figuring it out. He went 4-for-5 with a double and a run scored in Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
Castro reminded the 43,108 fans at Coors Field – an audience that included Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts – he can be such a dynamic presence. At the age of 23, he already has 10 four-hit games, two All-Star selections and $60 million guaranteed.
“It’s weird, because it’s been my goal: I want to be in the All-Star Game every year,” Castro said. “But this year didn’t go (the way I planned). This slump never happened to me (before). Next time it happens it’s going to be short, because I know I’m stronger and I can get out of this quickly.”
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Junior Lake, who was promoted from Triple-A Iowa on Friday, has been a reminder of how fast Castro rocketed through the system. They started their careers together on the same Dominican summer league team in 2007, became roommates in Arizona for rookie ball and split when Castro was assigned to advanced Class-A Daytona in 2009. They’ve remained roommates in spring training and talk regularly on the phone.
Lake struck out with the bases loaded in the first inning, and ended Sunday’s game with another strikeout that had him smacking his bat and walking head down back to the dugout. In between, he made a wild throw from center field in the two-run sixth inning. It sailed high and wide of home plate, ricocheting off the backstop and into the Rockies dugout.
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Manager Dale Sveum wrote it off as rookie excitement, the learning curve as Lake gets comfortable in a new position.
“I knew this moment was coming up, because he’s ready to go,” Castro said of Lake. “I got here earlier, but he’s ready to be here, too, right now. Let’s see if he stays here a long time.”
Castro’s game gets picked apart all the time, but he is hitting .311 in his last 21 games and viewed as a hard worker and a coachable player. The numbers on the scoreboard still light up the .247 average. But do you feel like you’re back now?
“Yeah, I feel pretty good,” Castro said. “I feel positive in my mind. Don’t think about nothing negative. Just play baseball like I always do and be aggressive.”