No pressure: Castro knows Cubs will break out of offensive slump

No pressure: Castro knows Cubs will break out of offensive slump
April 4, 2014, 6:15 pm
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Tony Andracki

Tomorrow is a new day.

That seems to be new manager Rick Renteria's official motto four games into the Cubs' 1-3 start to the 2014 season.

His players have started to pick up on it, too.

"It's tough, but tomorrow's another day," Starlin Castro said after the Cubs' 7-2 loss in the Wrigley opener Friday.

The Cubs have scored just eight runs in four games and are hitting .201 as a team. Castro and first baseman Anthony Rizzo, coming off disappointing 2013 seasons, are a combined 4-for-34 (.118 average) while hitting in the middle of the Cubs' order.

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With a strong wind blowing out on a frigid day at Wrigley Field on Friday, the Cubs' bats never warmed up as they mustered just three hits off the Phillies' pitching staff and none after Castro's RBI single in the third inning.

But there's no sense of panic yet in the Cubs clubhouse. You get the feeling the word "panic" might not even be in Renteria's vocabulary.

"It's the fourth game of the season," Renteria said. "And quite frankly, I wouldn't panic anyways. We're going to continue to work, we're going to continue to try to get better, we're going to continue to improve on the things we need to."

Castro missed almost all of spring training with a hamstring issue but insists he's healthy now and refuses to make excuses, saying he's simply trying to get into a rhythm in the early going.

"I feel good," he said. "I'm just trying to be aggressive."

A small contingent of frustrated fans let Castro have it in the eighth after he grounded into an inning-ending double play with two men on.

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The 24-year-old shortstop has gotten used to the ups and downs of the season and said he doesn't pay any attention to the boos. He's not putting pressure on himself and claims he feels relaxed at the plate.

"My mind's strong," Castro said. "I know who I am. I know what I can do, and I'm going to be fine."

Renteria and the Cubs are keeping a positive approach with their franchise shortstop.

"I don't think we look at his outcomes in terms of hits as the definitive answer to how he's doing," Renteria said. "We look at the approaches first and foremost. Is he chasing? Is he expanding the zone too much? Things of that nature.

"And those are things that we continue to talk about. It really has more to do with trying to see if we can help him focus a little better in the hitting areas that are conducive to him having the potential to have a better outcome."

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It is just four games into the season, and the Cubs have been playing in cold, wintry conditions that are not likely to yield to big offensive outputs.

"The first few games, it's always tough to score runs. Not only for us," Castro said. "But tomorrow is a new day. Every day is a new day.

"We try and score runs, but we have left a lot of guys in scoring position. We could have a lot more runs. We'll keep grinding, keep being aggressive at the plate and we'll be all right."