MESA, Ariz. – Starlin Castro believes everything is on track for the season opener. The Cubs shortstop planned to take four to six at-bats in a minor-league game on Saturday, a significant step forward as he recovers from a strained right hamstring.
“I think I’m going to be all right,” Castro said at Cubs Park. “Let’s see what the schedule is for me these next couple days. I think I’ll be good for Opening Day.”
That cautious optimism replaced the doubts that began to creep in as Castro treated a nagging injury that has sidelined him since March 2. He wasn’t scheduled to play shortstop on Saturday – or run hard out of the batter’s box – but he thinks nine days will be enough to get ready for March 31 against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
“Absolutely, it’s a great sign,” manager Rick Renteria said.
Castro strained his left hamstring last spring, had trouble walking and still missed only two weeks. He reported to camp in much better shape last month, but said this time more fluid had built up in his leg, and the Cubs wanted to take it slow with their $60 million investment.
Castro will turn 24 on Monday, and it’s hard to believe that this will be his fifth season in the big leagues. It doesn’t seem like that long ago when Ryan Theriot made his “Come and get it” declaration.
“I try to help the new guys,” Castro said. “We’re trying to make a winning team. That’s what I’m looking for. I’m not with the guys as much because I’m hurt, but I keep talking with the guys in here and I think it’s going to be a good team this year. We’ll keep everybody together.”