Cubs

Cubs notes: Castro's back, enough said?

Cubs notes: Castro's back, enough said?

Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010
9:45 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Starlin Castro found his name back in Wednesdays lineup, roughly 72 hours after he forgot how many outs there were, the kind of lapse in concentration that has bothered his new manager.

By benching Castro for two games even as that .317 average ranked third in the National League and lent credibility to a Rookie of the Year campaign Mike Quade felt he proved a point and used it as a teaching moment for his 20-year-old shortstop.

Enough said, Quade said. Hes doing what he needs to do.

It wont be a straight line of development for Castro, who committed his 23rd error during the first inning of Wednesdays 4-0 loss to the Houston Astros. Castro let a groundball pop out of his glove and didnt have time to flip to second for the third out. Carlos Lee whos listed at 265 pounds beat the throw to first.

Castros diving catch later robbed Lee of a base hit with two runners on in the fifth, and the shortstop made a nice spin play behind second base an inning later. In between he sprinted into Astros first baseman Brett Wallace and was knocked to the ground trying to hustle for an infield single.

The Cubs decided months ago to let Castro learn on the job and live with his mistakes, hoping for a bigger payoff in the future.

He understands where Im coming from, Quade said. Weve talked at length about his youth. (Its) just a step in the process of growing. Thats the way I look at it. And Im as anxious as anybody to see him play well.

It took Jeff Samardzija 136 days to get back to the big leagues. Between his demotion on April 24 and this weeks round of September call-ups, the Cubs made 19 additions to their pitching staff, almost constant roster shuffling that until Tuesday did not involve their 10 million prospect.

When Samardzija was sent down to Triple-A, the organization took its share of the blame, saying it was unfair to a player whos been pulled between the rotation and the bullpen (though Sean Marshall has made himself an extremely valuable asset by showing that kind of versatility).

Samardzijas development was already slowed by his All-American football career at the University of Notre Dame, but he doesnt care how hes used this month.

Here we go again, Samardzija said. Lets jump on the wheel and spin around.

The Cubs havent finalized their pitching plans for the final 21 games of the season. Casey Coleman will have at least one more audition and start Sunday in Milwaukee. Tom Gorzelanny threw Wednesday, testing his bruised left hand, but its unclear when exactly hell return.

At some point, Samardzija (11-3, 4.37 ERA at Iowa) is expected to get a start with the Cubs before they scatter for the offseason.

It doesnt matter, Samardzija said. I want to pitch and show them what I can do. Its been a wild year-and-a-half, two years. All you can do is learn and improve. (Im) really comfortable with where Im at right now.

Aramis Ramirez, who hasnt played since Sunday, continues to receive treatment for his sore right quadriceps. Quades sense is that Ramirez isnt close to being ready to play third base for an entire game, but the manager hopes to have him available soon as a pinch-hitter.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

MESA, Ariz. — “That’s last year, don’t want to talk about that.”

In other words, Addison Russell is so over 2017.

The Cubs shortstop went through a lot last year. He dealt with injuries that affected his foot and shoulder. He had a well-documented off-the-field issue involving an accusation of domestic abuse, which sparked an investigation by Major League Baseball. And then came the trade speculation.

The hot stove season rarely leaves any player completely out of online trade discussion. But after Theo Epstein admitted there was a possibility the Cubs could trade away one or more young position players to bolster the starting rotation, well, Russell’s name came up.

And he saw it.

“There was a lot of trade talk,” Russell said Saturday. “My initial thoughts were, I hope it doesn’t happen, but wherever I go, I’m going to try to bring what I bring to the table here. It’s a good thing that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m happy being in a Cubs uniform, I want to be in a Cubs uniform, for sure. But there was some talk out there. If I got traded, then I got traded, but that’s not the case.”

No, it’s not, as the Cubs solved those pitching questions with free-agent spending, bringing in Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood to replace the departed Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. It means Russell, along with oft-discussed names like Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Javy Baez, are all still Cubs.

While the outside world might have expected one of those guys to be moved in some sort of blockbuster trade for Chris Archer or some other All-Star arm, the Cubs’ young core remains intact, another reason why they’re as much a favorite to win the World Series as any team out there.

“I’m really not surprised. The core is still here. Who would want to break that up? It’s a beautiful thing,” Russell said. “Javy and I in the middle. Schwarber, sometimes playing catcher but mainly outfield. And then (Kris Bryant) over there in the hot corner, and of course (Anthony) Rizzo at first. You’ve got a Gold Glover in right field (Jason Heyward). It’s really hard to break that up.

“When you do break that down on paper, we’ve got a lineup that could stack up with the best.”

This winter has been about moving on for Russell, who said he’s spent months working to strengthen his foot and shoulder after they limited him to 110 games last season, the fewest he played in his first three big league campaigns.

And so for Russell, the formula for returning to his 2016 levels of offensive aptitude isn’t a difficult one: stay on the field.

“Especially with the injuries, I definitely wanted to showcase some more of my talent last year than I displayed,” Russell said. “So going into this year, it’s mainly just keeping a good mental — just staying level headed. And also staying healthy and producing and being out there on the field.

“Next step for me, really just staying out there on the field. I really want to see what I can do as far as helping the team if I can stay healthy for a full season. I think if I just stay out there on the field, I’m going to produce.”

While the decrease in being on the field meant lower numbers from a “counting” standpoint — the drop from 21 homers in 2016 to 12 last year, the drop from 95 RBIs to 43 can in part be attributed to the lower number of games — certain rate stats looked different, too. His on-base percentage dropped from .321 in 2016 to .304 last year.

Russell also struggled during the postseason, picking up just six hits in 36 plate appearances in series against the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out 13 times in 10 postseason games.

Of course, he wasn’t alone. That World Series hangover was team-wide throughout the first half of the season. And even though the Cubs scored 824 runs during the regular season, the second most in the National League and the fourth most in baseball, plenty of guys had their offensive struggles: Schwarber, Heyward and Ben Zobrist, to name a few.

“You can’t take anything for granted. So whenever you win a World Series or you do something good, you just have to live in the moment,” Russell said. “It was a tough season last year because we were coming off winning the World Series and the World Series hangover and all that. This year, we had a couple months off, a couple extra weeks off, and I think a lot of guys took advantage of that. I know I did. And now that we’re here in spring training, we’re going to get back at it.”

Cubs Talk Podcast: Discussing 5-man unit and where Montgomery fits into Cubs' plans

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Discussing 5-man unit and where Montgomery fits into Cubs' plans

Jon Lester has arrived at Cubs camp, and he’s pleased with the new-look rotation full of potential aces. Kelly Crull and Vinnie Duber discuss the 5-man unit, and where Mike Montgomery fits into the Cubs’ plans.

Plus, Kelly and Vinnie talk Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber, along with the continuing free agent stalemate surrounding Jake Arrieta.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here: