PITTSBURGH – The Addison Russell news hadn’t broken yet when Starlin Castro stood in front of his locker late Monday night and spoke with reporters inside PNC Park’s visiting clubhouse.
But it’s clear a three-time All-Star won’t give up his position without a fight. One of his goals this year is to win a Gold Glove.
“I have good talent to be a good shortstop,” Castro said after a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. “I don’t want to be no joke anymore.”
Manager Joe Maddon and winning pitcher Jake Arrieta both went out of their way to praise Castro, who made a diving stop to his left in the first inning and threw out Pittsburgh leadoff guy Josh Harrison, reminding you that he can still elevate his game.
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“I saw something out of him tonight that I hadn’t seen in awhile,” Arrieta said. “He seemed to have more of an aggressive nature about him tonight. He was fluid. Just tremendous at short.”
Maybe there’s something to not playing on a fifth-place team. Maddon and his coaches have also challenged Castro to incorporate more defensive work into his pregame routine and get into attack mode.
“(Be) aggressive on every ball,” Castro explained. “Sometimes, the errors that I’ve made (in the past have come) because I don’t have the confidence and stay back with the ball. Now, I’ll be aggressive and challenge the ball.”
Maddon is the fifth manager in six seasons for Castro, who doesn’t have to be such a daily focus now on a team with bigger names and hotter prospects.
There’s also something to be said for knowing who’s in charge. Whether or not Castro stays at shortstop and Russell transitions to second base, there are ways for the Cubs to make those pieces fit together.
“I feel different,” Castro said. “That’s the most important thing – the confidence that the manager gives to us. That’s the best way that you learn your talent is (coming together). Don’t think about anything. Just go out there and play. And we’re having fun.”