Cubs

Cubs not rushing to judgment on Castro

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Cubs not rushing to judgment on Castro

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.

Why Cubs might not lose again and other musings in strange, short season

Why Cubs might not lose again and other musings in strange, short season

As if things weren’t already going well enough for the Cubs during this strange, short season of baseball in a pandemic, now the baseball gods are dropping gifts into their laps.

The Cardinals’ lengthy shutdown because of a coronavirus outbreak has the Cubs’ arch rivals restarting their season Saturday in Chicago with a patched-up roster and eight games over the next five days, including five games against the Cubs.

And although that means the relative hardship of two doubleheaders for the Cubs in three days, all five of those games Monday through Wednesday are against a decimated Cards roster that won’t have the front end of its rotation for any of the games.

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They catch the Cardinals at their weakest point of the early season a week after catching an otherwise formidable Cleveland team at a moment of clubhouse crisis involving protocol perps Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger.

That one resulted in a two-game sweep by a combined score of 14-3.

This one already has resulted in all 10 games against the Cardinals now being scheduled for Wrigley Field.

Combine that with the three road games against the White Sox next month, and it means that the team with baseball’s best record on the field, the perfect record in player COVID-19 testing and no significant injuries to key players so far will play 60 percent of its games within its Chicago bubble if the Cubs and MLB pull off the full 60-game season.

If the Cubs were positioned any better to make the playoffs, they’d already be there.

“You can look at it that way if you want,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “We’re just doing our thing.”

No other way to look at it from here. Have you seen the rest of the schedule?

The Cubs have 43 games left, including 29 within a National League Central Division that doesn’t include another .500 team three weeks into a nine-week season. Nine more games are against the Tigers and White Sox.

The best team on the schedule is the Twins, and all three of those games are at home and not until the second-to-last weekend of the season.

With all due respect to Ross and his fear of “bad juju,” the Cubs can’t lose.

“It’s still early on,” the manager said.

Nothing’s early in a 60-game season. And the Cubs already have matched the hot starts of their 2016 and 1908 World Series champions.

“We’ve still got a long ways to go in the season,” Ross said.

The Cubs did have to scratch Tyler Chatwood from his scheduled start Friday night because of back tightness. And Kris Bryant has missed the last two games because of a sore finger after rolling his wrist trying to make a diving catch in left field in Cleveland Wednesday.

But Alec Mills looked good in short-notice replacement duty Friday until a rough four-pitch (and three-run) sequence in the sixth. And Chatwood might be ready for one of Monday’s games — or possibly one of Wednesday’s.

“Things falling in our favor?” Ross said. “We’re playing good baseball, and that should be the focus for me and not the other stuff.”

Granted, they still have to play the games. Granted, Bryant wasn’t available off the bench with the bases loaded in the eighth Friday, and Josh Phegley struck out instead.

And, yes, they actually lost a game to the Brewers Friday night.

But if you still don’t believe the baseball gods are stirring the Cubs’ pot so far this season, you weren’t paying attention in the ninth inning when Craig Kimbrel struck out Avisail Garcia swinging at a 98-mph fastball to start the scoreless inning and Manny Piña swinging at a 96-mph fastball to end it.

What closer problem? Bring on the Cardinals, right?

These guys might not lose another game.

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Cubs' Colin Rea to start on Saturday, Tyler Chatwood possibly Monday

Cubs' Colin Rea to start on Saturday, Tyler Chatwood possibly Monday

The Cubs plan to start swingman Colin Rea on Saturday against the Brewers, manager David Ross said after Friday's game.

Alec Mills was originally slated to pitch Saturday but was bumped up to Friday because Tyler Chatwood was scratched with mid-back tightness. The Cubs will evaluate Chatwood to see if he's an option to pitch on Monday, when they're scheduled to play a doubleheader against the Cardinals.

Rea, 30, has made two appearances this season, allowing no runs and one hit while striking out three in three innings. He was named the 2019 Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year, sporting a 3.95 ERA in 26 starts.

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Rea's last big league start was July 30, 2016 with the Marlins. He allowed one hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out four with no walks.

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