MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs still expect Starlin Castro to be all systems go for Opening Day.
Castro passed another test on Monday, playing shortstop in a game for the first time since straining his right hamstring on March 2. He went up against minor-leaguers — and he didn’t get any balls hit to him — but it allowed him to get a feel for playing the position again.
“I was able to do all the movement,” Castro said. “I feel pretty good.”
Manager Rick Renteria said Castro won’t play in either of Tuesday’s split-squad games and will instead take live batting practice and run through game situations at shortstop.
“We’re going to push him,” Renteria said, “and then we’ll see where he’s at.”
At that point, the Cubs will only have two Cactus League games left, plus two exhibitions against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field, before the March 31 season opener.
“I got to get my rhythm, stay in my rhythm and be ready,” Castro said.
The initial projection for what was supposed to be a mild hamstring strain had Castro missing seven to 10 days. The Cubs continue to say he’ll be there at PNC Park on Opening Day, ready to begin a bounce-back season against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“He’s coming along,” Renteria said. “He’s doing well. I think he’s getting his baseball feet underneath him. We’re very hopeful that his progression is where it needs to be.”