Starlin Castro is in uncharted waters.
The 25-year-old has never been anything but a starter in his baseball career, but now he finds himself on the outside looking in at Joe Maddon's lineup.
"This is the first time [I've been in this situation]," Castro said. "But I will never put my head down. I know the talent that I have. I know the player that I am."
Castro is hitting just .236 with a .575 OPS, which ranks last among Major League Baseball shortstops and fourth-worst among all qualified players. FanGraphs rates his WAR at -0.8.
The Cubs are going for it this season, led by Maddon's "mad scientist" approach and as the Dog Days of August hits, it's about results, not worrying about people's feelings or development.
Which is why Maddon filled out a lineup two days in a row against the San Francisco Giants with Addison Russell at shortstop, Chris Coghlan at second base, Kyle Schwarber in left field and Castro on the bench.
"I feel a little frustrated, especially [Friday] when they told me," Castro said. "In the beginning, I took it really personal, but after that, I thought about it and I understand you have to put those guys in there every day. They're really hot right now.
"Whatever I can do for the team to win."
And the Cubs are winning, going 8-1 in their last nine games, including the first two against the Giants, who were a half-game up on the Cubs in the NL wild card standings entering the four-game series at Wrigley Field.
Entering play Saturday, the Cubs (60-48) were 12 games above .500 for the first time since 2008 and Castro admitted it's easier to swallow his benching when the team is doing so well.
Castro was a career .284 hitter with a .735 OPS before this season, earning three All-Star Game appearances and is just 57 hits shy of 1,000 for his career.
But he hasn't found a rhythm at the plate at all this season, even after hitting .325 in April and looking energized playing on a winning team. Since May 2, Castro is hitting .210 with a .524 OPS.
"I don't feel pressure at the plate," Castro said. "Joe told me something was going to have to happen. I didn't know if it was me or somebody else [going to the bench].
"We're here for the team. They know what can make the team better."
Maddon understands Castro's frustration, but he and the Cubs are just hoping to get the 25-year-old back on track.
"I expect [frustration]," Maddon said. "There's no other way to evaluate that. I would be frustrated, too, from his side. But I thought he was very professional about it.
"We gotta get him right. We'll still work him back in there. Like I talked about [Friday], nothing has changed. I really like the kid a lot and we'll try to get him back on his feet."
Russell has impressed defensively at shortstop, making a seamless transition to the other side of the infield from second base. But he's also unsure of how things will play out moving forward.
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"Really, I don't know what's going on," Russell said. "All I know is [Castro] is a good teammate and he picks me up whenever I'm down, so that's all I can say."
Castro said he and Russell talk on a daily basis and both players continue to stress the importance of putting the team first.
For his part, Castro is focusing on getting his confidence back at the plate.
"My talent hasn't gone anywhere," he said.