And there is one grizzled veteran that is playing with as much spirit and enthusiasm as anyone on the team … the Cubs’ 25-year old shortstop, Starlin Castro.
Throughout the off-season, questions were asked about how Starlin Castro would respond this year playing on a team expected to win games and with talented players around him. Castro hasn’t played on a winning team and by the third week of April the Cubs were already buried in last place in the division.
After a rather concerning Spring Training, Castro has really gotten himself on track in the field and at the plate.
Starlin Castro is 16-for-49 with a double and a home run in the first 12 games and he’s quietly hitting .327/.353/.408 with a .761 OPS. Castro has hit safely in 10 of 12 games and 35 of his last 39 games dating back to last season.
Joe Maddon challenged Castro to win a Gold Glove in Spring Training. And Castro has responded in the field under his new skipper.
Starlin Castro told the beat writers Monday night before the news leaked that Addison Russell was on his way to the big leagues, “I have a good talent to be a good shortstop. I don’t want to be a joke anymore.”
Castro has changed his pre-game routine and has “incorporated more defensive work” according to Comcast SportsNet.
Jake Arrieta noticed the difference in Castro and complimented the shortstop after Monday’s game. “I saw something out of him tonight that I hadn’t seen in awhile. He seemed to have more of an aggressive nature about him tonight. He was just fluid. Just tremendous at shortstop.”
The Cubs plan to have Castro play short and Addison Russell to play second base. And based on the comments Jed Hoyer made during the day prior to Monday’s game, if Castro moves to another position the transition will not take place in-season.
Starlin Castro credited Joe Maddon for instilling confidence in him and creating an environment the players can just go out and play and have fun as the reason for his improved play.
After going 0-for-4 in his debut with three strikeouts, Kris Bryant is 6-for-10 in his last three games. Over four games, Bryant is 6-for-14 with two doubles, four walks and four strikeouts (.429/.579/.571) for a 1.150 OPS.
Bryant admitted to the beat writers Monday that he didn’t know about the billboard outside of Wrigley until Anthony Rizzo sent him a selfie. Bryant talked about his Red Bull commercial and thought it turned out great, even though he’s a city boy and it was hard for him to keep the goat by his side.
While Kris Bryant and now Addison Russell are grabbing the headlines, the Cubs right fielder is off to a good start to the season. Jorge Soler recorded the first four-hit game of his career Monday night. And he almost nailed Gregory Polanco at the plate in the first inning. The throw was perfect, just a little late.
After 12 games, Jorge Soler is 16-for-50 with two doubles, a triple, two home runs, three walks and 16 strikeouts (.320/.364/.520) for a .884 OPS.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Dallas Beeler faced Kevin Correia in an extended Spring Training game on Monday.
• RHP C.J. Edwards entered Monday’s game against Jackson in the sixth inning. Edwards pitched a 1-2-3 sixth. Edwards started the seventh but could not record three outs. Jackson scored four unearned runs off Edwards. The right hander walked two batters and gave up a hit.
• Former Cubs’ farmhand, LHP Andrew McKirahan was suspended without pay for 80 games Monday after testing positive for PEDs. McKirahan apologized to his teammates and took responsibility for his actions.
• Commissioner Rob Manfred appears to be moving closer to reinstating Pete Rose. And it wouldn’t be a surprise to see an announcement made during the All-Star festivities in Cincinnati. Buster Olney posted what he thinks should be the conditions and terms under which Pete Rose is reinstated.
And last, but not least, Bryan Price channeled his inner Lee Elia, and not in a good way. There are rumblings that Price may not be calling the shots for the Reds by the time the Cubs get to Cincinnati on Friday.
This Day In Cubstory
2012 – Cubs traded Marlon Byrd and cash to the Reds Sox for a PTBNL and Michael Bowden. The Red Sox sent Hunter Cervenka to the Cubs on May 15, 2012 to complete the trade.
2006 – Derrek Lee broke his wrist in a collision at first base with the Dodgers’ Rafael Furcal on April 19. The Cubs announced Lee would be out and miss a significant amount of time two days later after test results proved he broke his wrist.
2003 – Cubs purchased Trent Hubbard from Oaxaca of the Mexican League
2003 – Cubs released Javier Cardona
1982 – Cubs traded Paul Semall, Paul Mirabella and cash to the Rangers for Bump Wills.
1966 – Cubs traded Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl to the Phillies for John Herrnstein, Adolfo Phillips and Ferguson Jenkins.
1964 – Cubs scored all of their runs on homers by Jimmy Stewart, Ron Santo, Andre Rodgers, Billy Cowan and Billy Williams, but the Cubs lost 8-5 to the Pirates at Wrigley Field. The Pirates also scored all of their runs on homers, three-run shots by Jim Pagliaroni and Gene Freese and solo homers by Roberto Clemente and Dick Schofield.
1962 – Les Lancaster, born
1959 – Stan Musial broke up Glen Hobbie’s no-hit bid with a two-out double in the seventh inning. Hobbie settled for a one-hitter (or what would later be called a Greg Maddux) in a 1-0 win over the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
1940 – Bill Faul, born
1922 – Cubs scored seven runs in the seventh inning and beat the Reds 8-3 at Cubs Park. Hack Miller went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer.
1917 – Cubs purchased Fred Merkle from the Brooklyn Robins for $3,500.
1902 – Lefty Weinhart, born
1887 – Joe McCarthy, born