Dale Sveum feels Starlin Castro has been punished enough.
One day after Castro’s much-publicized mental blunder cost the Cubs a run in their 4-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, Sveum put Castro back in the starting lineup at shortstop.
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“To be embarrassed and be on national TV and what’s probably written in the paper today, that’s plenty enough,” Sveum said. “I don’t think this kid can get better by not playing today.”
In the fifth inning of Saturday’s nationally televised game, Castro caught a ball in shallow left field with John Jay on third for the Cardinals. Castro turned away from Jay and kept the ball as Jay bolted for home. By the time Castro recovered and threw the ball, Jay had slid in safely.
Sveum reacted by pulling Castro from the game following that half inning, a move Cubs President Theo Epstein fully supported Sunday during an interview with WGN Radio.
“It was handled exceptionally well, not only by Dale but by Starlin himself,” Epstein said. “The manager made the player accountable and the player, rather than sulking, admitted culpability. And after paying the price, the manager has his back and gets him right back out there to play today. Kudos to Dale for handling it this way.”
Because Castro’s gaffe was not an official error, his career-best 25 game errorless streak remains intact. He’s committed only one error in his past 47 games since June 26. That came on the heels of committing five errors in 10 games from June 14 to 23.
His current streak shows he is improving defensively. But he remains susceptible to mental lapses. Epstein said that could be a result of the 23-year-old Castro’s not being a fully developed player yet due to his sprint through the minors.
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Still, Epstein added Castro should know better by now, and that nobody is making excuses for him. Both Epstein and Sveum were pleased that Castro didn’t try to hide or make excuses for his mistake.
“He’s manned up and knows and takes the responsibility,” Sveum said. “But obviously we need those things to come to a stop.”
Castro’s offensive struggles have been well-documented this season, leading Epstein to call this “a bit of a lost season for Starlin.” Castro enters Sunday’s series finale against the Cardinals batting .244.
“He’s got natural hand-eye coordination -- we know that,” Sveum said. “But there are a lot of mechanical things that are going on that aren’t going to allow you to square a baseball up on a consistent basis. I think he knows that and he’s in a fistfight right now to figure it out.”
While that remains a question, his place with the organization does not. Nothing he did Saturday makes the Cubs rethink their commitment to him.
“This guy is a good player that we have to have play well when we are ready to win a championship,” Sveum said. “He’s got to be there. He’s under contract and we know it’s all there and we have to get it out of him.”