Success has come so fast for Starlin Castro that when things like 3,000 hits or the Hall of Fame were mentioned, hed shrug and say: Why not?
It didnt come across as arrogant. Castros teammates liked his quiet confidence. It seemed a little nave. This is a polite kid from the Dominican Republic who worked hard to learn English, in part because of the potential endorsement opportunities.
The Cubs continue to say that their 21-year-old All-Star shortstop will be at this weekends convention, a marketing event that will have to deal with a recent report that Castro was accused of sexual assault and is under investigation by Chicago police.
The story came out last week, more than three months after a police report was filed. Castros attorneys have called the allegations baseless. The player has not been charged with a crime.
Theo Epstein didnt want to talk about Castro specifically during Wednesdays media event at Harry Carays downtown. The new president of baseball operations only said the facts will develop and as the story evolves, there will be an appropriate time (to comment).
Dale Sveum met with the young shortstop in Chicago in mid-November, on the day of the managers introductory press conference. Sveum said he wasnt aware of the situation at the time, but doesnt believe it will negatively impact Castro.
I dont really know the details of all of it, Sveum said, but I dont think its going to affect (him). Right now its what it is and I think its being taken care (of through the proper channels).
The new manager was asked what sort of message hed give to his players about representing the Cubs away from the ballpark.
They are grown men, Sveum said. Ive raised my children and sometimes you do have to treat a lot of these players like theyre your children. Guys get misled. They dont quite understand sometimes how to handle the off-field activities, so to speak, especially when youre in a big city like Chicago.
You do a lot of talking. Communication helps out, but the bottom line is theyre grown men. So they have to grow up on their own sometimes, too.
This isnt necessarily a direct response to Castros situation. But next year Epstein is planning to introduce a rookie-development program similar to one designed by the Red Sox when he was the general manger in Boston, another pressurized market with great expectations and a steep learning curve.
When you have a lot of young players at the big-league level, Epstein said, often times you forget just how new they are to this whole thing professional baseball, the responsibility that comes with it, the importance of representing the organization the right way (and) being a good teammate.
Organizations that just assume that theyll figure it out on their own make a big mistake. (Were going to) teach them whats its like to be a big-leaguer, set the expectations for them and give them tools on how to meet those expectations, everything from how to deal with the media to how to say no to people off-the-field that want things from them.
(Its) how to properly handle themselves in the hotel or out on the town. Its an important part. You cant make assumptions that guys know how to handle themselves. You need to work with them. You want an organization that projects the right image.
To make a positive impact on the community, you have to work to get it. The players are the ones who are going to dictate how that goes. We need to support them every step of the way.
For the Cubs and Castro, right now that means letting it play out and not rushing to make any judgments.