MILWAUKEE — All the negativity surrounding the Cubs has overshadowed the beginning of Starlin Castro’s bounce-back season.
Castro responded by hitting two home runs in Sunday’s 4-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, showing why he’s the $60 million franchise shortstop.
“I got my mind really strong after last year,” Castro said. “I’m working hard, and trying not to think about that. I feel happy. When I go to home plate, I trust myself. That’s the reason last year happened — I went up there and I didn’t trust myself. Now, I trust myself. If I strike out, I’ll get another (chance).”
Miller Park is where Dale Sveum threatened to send Castro and Anthony Rizzo to Triple-A Iowa last April. It’s also where Theo Epstein rang “no alarm bells” when the Cubs returned in September, triggering Sveum Watch.
Who knows if it has anything to do with all the staffing changes or if it’s a two-time All-Star returning to that level or if it’s a 24-year-old player naturally maturing.
But the day after hitting two balls to the warning track, Castro crushed one to dead center and drilled another down the left-field line, giving him his second two-homer game this month. He’s hitting .292 and appears to be more focused defensively, even though he committed his fourth error on Sunday afternoon.
“Sometimes when you have young superstars like that, you don’t know what their work ethic is going to be like,” catcher John Baker said. “When you’re playing against somebody, you always want to not give them the benefit of the doubt and find that kind of an edge.
“But coming in here and playing with him and seeing what he went through in spring training to get back to play after (the hamstring injury) and then watching him do his work — he wants to improve as a defensive player. I see him out there all the time, before day games taking groundballs.
“That, to me, is more impressive than him hitting two home runs in a game. He’s a stud. (He) really is striving to be a complete, frontline shortstop.”