PHOENIX – Starlin Castro sees Arismendy Alcantara as the start of something.
The All-Star shortstop knows what it’s like to be the next big thing. At the age of 20, Castro homered in his first big-league at-bat, putting up six RBI in his debut after only 57 games above the A-ball level. But where the 2010 Cubs saw their window to contend slamming shut, this could just be the beginning with a youth movement led by Alcantara.
“Oh yeah,” Castro said. “And a lot more are coming up here. That will help the team a lot.”
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Alcantara filled up the box score in different ways during Friday’s 5-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. It wasn’t highlight-reel material – just the steady play that helped him beat hyped prospects Javier Baez and Kris Bryant to The Show.
Alcantara worked a leadoff walk in the fourth inning, stole second and scored when Anthony Rizzo blasted a no-doubt, two-run homer over the right-center field fence. He stole another base in the eighth inning, again showing how he could add another dimension to this team, even while going 0-for-3.
Alcantara already extended his stay through the All-Star break after Darwin Barney’s paternity leave by going 9-for-23 with three doubles, a triple, a homer and five RBI in his first five games.
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But manager Rick Renteria wouldn’t commit to Alcantara sticking with the Cubs beyond this weekend’s series in Phoenix.
“Obviously, he’s been playing very, very well,” Renteria said. “Right now, fortunately for me, we have three days and then the off-day before we have to make a decision as to how we’ll proceed with the roster.
“We still have to have conversations to see how we’ll go. (It’s) one of those situations (where) it’s still day-to-day.”
One X-factor could be Emilio Bonifacio, another energy guy who can play second base and center field and might need to be showcased for a potential trade before the July 31 deadline.
Bonifacio – who’s been on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle since mid-June – has begun a rehab assignment with Double-A Tennessee. Renteria said Bonifacio’s “getting close,” but still needs a few more games before rejoining the Cubs.
Whether or not Alcantara, 22, takes a quick detour back to Triple-A Iowa before returning to Wrigley Field, he will be a reason to watch this team in the second half.
“He’s a smart kid,” Castro said. “He listens. He’s going to be good in here.”