Cubs

Castros lawyers deny assault allegations

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Castros lawyers deny assault allegations

The Cubs woke up Friday morning to an explosive story that could be damaging to their young star.

WBBM reported that Starlin Castro has been accused of sexual assault and is under investigation by Chicago police. The news radio station cited anonymous sources in describing an incident with a woman more than three months ago in River North.

No charges have been filed. Castro has retained two prominent attorneys Jay K. Reisinger and Michael P. Gillespie who released the following statement:

We are aware of certain allegations that have been made against our client. (We) have thoroughly investigated this matter, and we are confident that these allegations are baseless. Given the sensitive nature of this matter, we cannot comment any further.

Reisinger has advised Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte and Sammy Sosa through congressional hearings and investigations into performance-enhancing drugs. Gillespie has a criminal-defense practice rooted in Chicago.

The WBBM story indicated that Castro and a young woman were out drinking on Sept. 29, the day after the Cubs ended their season in San Diego. They left the bar around 3 a.m. and went to Castros downtown apartment, where the police report obtained by WBBM says the alleged victim blacked out and woke up during the attack.

The timeline constructed by the radio station has her leaving around 5:30 a.m. and going to a hospital about 12 hours later, at which point the police were notified.

Castro lives in the Dominican Republic during the offseason. The 21-year-old All-Star shortstop returned to Chicago in the middle of November for a meeting with his agent, Paul Kinzer, and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and new manager Dale Sveum.

Even if there were whispers about an investigation, it was difficult to see it coming out quite like this.

A press release sent out by the team on Thursday highlighted how Castro would be attending next weeks Cubs Convention. Even Friday morning the teams official website still used his image to promote ticket plans and travel packages to Arizona for spring training.

During Fridays conference call to announce the Anthony Rizzo-Andrew Cashner trade with the San Diego Padres, general manager Jed Hoyer confirmed that Castro is expected to be in town for the convention.

Im not going to answer questions directly about it, Hoyer said. Theres the time and place. The police (are) still very much in the fact-finding mode on this whole thing. To comment on any part of this matter involving Starlin would be really inappropriate because the investigation is incomplete.

Castro was the type of player the Cubs would like to build their entire team around. Hes the face of the franchise in the Dominican, where the organization plans to construct a new facility. The marketing department put him on billboards opposite Derek Jeter to hype a marquee series against the New York Yankees last season.

We are aware that a police report was filed regarding an incident involving Starlin, but we have received limited information, the team said in a statement. While this is something we take very seriously, there is not enough information to make any further comment or take action at this time. We are hopeful when the facts are brought to light, Starlin will be cleared of any wrongdoing.

In the age of Twitter and Facebook, Castro made it through his first two seasons in Chicago without any embarrassing photos showing up on the Internet. Several teammates and staffers have expressed admiration for how he has handled the spotlight, and wondered how they would have responded at that age.

Castros family lived with him for most of the season his parents had returned to the Dominican by the middle of September and his younger brothers made regular appearances at Wrigley Field.

Hoyer declined to say how this will impact Castros standing in the organization, or if the young shortstop will be available for spring training.

We expect our players to behave with the highest level of respect on the field, off the field and in the community, Hoyer said. Being a member of the Cubs carries with it a very high standard of conduct and responsibility.

While we cannot address this particular matter at this time, we do want to emphasize our organizations commitment to being respectful members in the community (and) positive examples to our great fans.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Checking in with Joe & Theo at the Winter Meetings

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Checking in with Joe & Theo at the Winter Meetings

Tony Andracki goes 1-on-1 with manager Joe Maddon at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. The Cubs manager touches on his efforts to put art back into the game, his biggest challenge in 2019, the Cubs' sense of urgency and his thoughts about Matt Nagy and the Bears (:30).

Plus, we catch up with Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, who discusses internal team leadership, whether or not the Cubs are close to a deal and how Maddon is changing up his coaching style (5:45).

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Where do Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo fit in Cubs leadership equation?

Where do Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo fit in Cubs leadership equation?

LAS VEGAS — All this talk about the Cubs' desire for more leadership on the roster has raised several questions and chief among them is wondering what it says about the core players already on the team.

If the Cubs have a leadership void — as Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have said this month — does that mean players like Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and Javy Baez are not leaders?

Epstein confirmed Tuesday afternoon at the MLB Winter Meetings that the Cubs feel they have plenty of leadership on the roster, but they're looking more for that one guy — a veteran who has been around the block and isn't afraid to call somebody out or hold teammates accountable. The David Ross or Jon Jay mold, as Hoyer said Monday.

Rizzo is the face of the franchise and the driving force in the lineup every day, but he's still only 29 and developing as a leader. 

Heyward isn't real vocal, but when he does speak up, it carries a lot of weight — as the famous Rain Delay Speech indicates. 

Zobrist can talk hitting for hours and it's easy to see him becoming a coach whenever his playing career is done. But he isn't super vocal by nature, either.

Baez is an interesting case as he is quickly becoming an impactful leader for this team. In the process of putting up a huge breakout 2018 campaign that earned him a second-place finish in NL MVP voting, Baez became one of the most outspoken players in the dugout and clubhouse.

His instincts and baseball IQ are off the charts and he sees the game on a whole other level, which lends a different viewpoint to the squad. 

When the Cubs were handed a disappointing and abrupt early offseason, it was Baez that stood at his locker for nearly a half hour, ranting about how the team lacked urgency and an edge for most of the year.

Baez is starting to emerge as a true leader, but March 28, 2019 will only represent his third big-league Opening Day and he still has played in just 527 games at baseball's highest level.

"Javy is as respected as anyone in that clubhouse and is just starting to find his voice," Epstein said. "That's probably the next step for him — speaking up a little bit more. But by the way he plays the game, how much he cares about winning, how tough he is, he's got everyone's respect and attention."

Epstein said Rizzo is making it his personal mission to take his leadership to another level.

Epstein and Hoyer and the rest of the front office are taking responsibility for the "miscalculation" that the 2018 Cubs did not need — or have room on the roster — for one of those leaders.

Now they're trying to fix that for 2019 by attempting to add the right guy into the mix.

But what type of leader are the Cubs seeking?

"It's really certain leadership you need from the right bench guy who's not expecting a ton more playing time, who's content at where he is in his career — he's just completely invested in winning, invested in his teammates," Epstein said. "Those little difficult conversations that you have to have sometimes. Or bringing energy on a day where the everyday guys are dragging.

"That's an important role on a club, but please don't take it the wrong way that we think there's some deficiency with our position players. We have incredible guys and a lot of character there and some leaders — they're just continuing to grow into it."

What is it that Ross provided this club that they haven't been able to duplicate since he left?

Here's a perfect example:

"David was unusual, because Dave would grab guys walking off the field after a play," Joe Maddon said Tuesday. "And I would be entertained in my corner watching this whole thing unfold. I would address it afterwards. There's nothing wrong with that. I know that some of the guys were afraid to come in the dugout. And still that's OK, because they knew David was on their side.

"Yes, we want that. I would say that every team out here wants that and they're hard to find."