Cubs: Maddon proud of the way Castro is 'wearing' mental mistake


Cubs: Maddon proud of the way Castro is 'wearing' mental mistake

MINNEAPOLIS - "Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical."

That infamous Yogi Berra quote may be the most apt description of what Joe Maddon is facing with Starlin Castro right now.

Maddon can essentially add "psychologist" or "therapist" to his resume right below the "Cubs manager" header. His ability to lead the team is not quantified just in the way he utilizes his bullpen or crafts the lineup. 

Maddon has to get inside his players' heads and help them succeed in a game that is impacted heavily by the mental aspect.

[MORE: Starlin Castro 'embarrassed' after mental mistake in Cubs loss]

It's that mental part that Maddon keeps preaching with Castro, who committed a physical error on a groundball in the first inning of Friday's loss, but then compounded that gaffe by hanging his head and losing focus, allowing a second run come around to score.

Maddon insists he doesn't care about the physical mistakes, understanding those come with the territory. He also doesn't think the answer is for Castro to take more groundballs or put in more infield work.

"He does his work," Maddon said. "I watch it all the time. We talk all the time. His work's good. That play seems to give him a little bit of a hard time - going to his left like that.

"But from my perspective, I understand he really stood up to his mistake. I really like that a lot. I did mention that to him - that I'm very proud of him for being accountable to the moment. That's one thing I've learned about him - he's not an excuse-maker at all. 

"So there's a lot to like about the guy. You can't question his work or how much he wants to do well. He makes mistakes on occasion. He's played for a couple years, but he's still young. It's our responsibility as a coaching staff to attempt to coach that out of him.

"He's a great pupil and he listens. I can't say anything badly about him because he attempts to do the right thing and sometimes, it just doesn't turn out that way."

[MORE: Cubs on the mend - Soler takes BP, Olt begins rehab stint]

Castro is accountable and always has been with his mistakes, physical or mental. But these sort of mental miscues have plagued him throughout his six-year career.

Maddon preached the need for the coaching staff to support their 25-year-old shortstop, rather than get angry or try a tough love approach.

"To be upset or angry with somebody, to me, that would only come when I thought somebody didn't care," Maddon said. "This guy does care. He does work. He makes mistakes. Now how do you get rid of them? By continuing to talk about them and trusting him.

"He's very accountable. I think the accountability component is really important because you can't get better without it. I'm patient by nature. But when I'm dealing with a young man that really is trying to do the right thing, I'm even more patient."

Maddon has a history of being patient and working well with young players. He believes these mental mistakes can eventually go away for Castro and he can get to the player he's supposed to be on a consistent basis.

Maddon also pointed to the success of the team and how it's the first time Castro has been a part of a contender. In the previous five years, Castro has only played for fifth-place teams, spending just a few days on a team that was above .500 ever during that stretch.

"I don't know he's been attached to a team with this kind of ability," Maddon said. "So maybe in the past, the interior need to get rid of this may not have been as dramatic or as pertinent as it is now for him to do that.

"I don't give up easily. I see a lot of good there."

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Get a Starlin Castro jersey here]

Castro may be in unchartered territory on a personal level with a team aspiring for a postseason berth. But because of the Cubs' success this season, Castro's mistakes have carried even more weight. 

That has caused fans and even some media members to seriously question if the organization would/should move Castro off shortstop, especially with Addison Russell proving he belongs at the big-league level and playing a solid second base.

"I haven't had that conversation with Theo [Epstein] or anybody yet," Maddon said. "I don't see that right now as anything I'd like to do.

"I feel like my responsibility is to try to get him better and to eradicate, to some extent, the mental mistake. That's my concern."

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998


Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

An off-day did nothing to slow down the 1998 National League MVP as Sosa collected his second straight 2-homer game May 27 of that season.

He went deep in the eighth and ninth innings of a Cubs' 10-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field, driving in 3 runs. 

The first homer - off Darrin Winston - was an absolute blast, traveling an estimated 460 feet. The second shot was tame in comparison with only 400 feet as a recorded distance.

In a matter of two games, Sosa raised his season OPS from .930 to .988 and his slugging percentage from .521 to .577 thanks to a pair of 2-homer contests.

Fun fact: Doug Glanville - former Cubs outfielder and current NBC Sports Chicago analyst - was the Phillies leadoff hitter that day in 1998, collecting three hits and scoring a pair of runs.

Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis


Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis

Yu Darvish now has more trips to the disabled list in a Cubs uniform than wins.

The Cubs place their 31-year-old right-handed pitcher on the DL Saturday evening with right triceps tendinitis. The move is retroactive to May 23, so he may only have to miss one turn through the rotation.

In a corresponding move, Randy Rosario was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to provide Joe Maddon with another arm in the bullpen. Tyler Chatwood will start Sunday in Darvish's place.

Thanks to two off-days on the schedule last week, the Cubs should be fine with their rotation for a little while. Jon Lester could go on regular rest Monday, but the Cubs would need to make a decision for Tuesday given Kyle Hendricks just threw Friday afternoon.

That decision could mean Mike Montgomery moving from the bullpen to the rotation for a spot start, or it could be the promotion of top prospect Adbert Alzolay from Triple-A Iowa.

Either way, this is more bad news for Darvish, who has had a rough go of it since he signed a six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs in February.

Between issues with the weather, the concern of arm cramps in his debut in Miami, leg cramps in Atlanta, a trip to the disabled list for the flu, trouble making it out of the fifth inning and now triceps tendinitis, it's been a forgettable two months for Darvish.

He is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 40 innings with the Cubs.

Over the course of 139 career starts, Darvish is 57-45 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and has averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings.