Cubs

Cubs: Starlin Castro making a case to stay at shortstop

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Cubs: Starlin Castro making a case to stay at shortstop

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.

[SHOP: Buy a Starlin Castro jersey]

“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.”

[MORE: Cubs calling up Addison Russell marking another aggressive move]

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.”

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th 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.

Sosa is heating up, but even a red-hot Sosa doesn't automatically equal wins for the Cubs.

Slammin' Sammy notched his first multi-homer game in 1998 in a 9-5 loss to Kevin Millwood and the Atlanta Braves. Sosa drove in 4 of the Cubs' 5 runs on a solo shot in the 4th inning and a three-run shot in the 8th. 

Sosa tallied 830 feet of homers in the game, with his first blast going 410 feet and the second shot measured at 420 feet.

The big game bumped Sosa's overall season slash line to .337/.411/.551 (.962 OPS) with 11 homers and 35 RBI.

Fun fact: Mickey Morandini hit second for the Cubs in this game and went 4-for-4, but somehow only scored one run despite hitting just in front of Sosa all game. That's because Morandini was caught stealing to end the 3rd inning, leaving Sosa to lead off the 4th inning with a solo blast.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: If Cubs somehow miss the playoffs will Joe Maddon's seat start heating up?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: If Cubs somehow miss the playoffs will Joe Maddon's seat start heating up?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Nick Friedell (ESPN.com) and Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times) join David Kaplan on the panel.

The guys discuss Welington Castillo’s 80-game PED suspension, the Cubs struggles and if Joe Maddon could be on the hot seat if the Cubs somehow miss the playoffs in 2018.

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