Cubs

Starlin Castro focused on winning now – not his future with Cubs

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Starlin Castro focused on winning now – not his future with Cubs

PHILADELPHIA – Starlin Castro waited long enough for this that he’s not going to worry about the future, what position he might play or where the Cubs could trade him this winter. 

After being a lightning rod for five fifth-place teams – and playing for his fifth manager in six seasons – Castro doesn’t need to be the center of attention or see his image opposite Derek Jeter on a billboard again.

Castro is going to appreciate the ride on a playoff contender – and not try to predict which teams could use a three-time All-Star shortstop who will be 26 years old next season.  

“I don’t really think about this,” Castro said. “I don’t really put that kind of thing in my mind. Whatever they decide…if it happens, it happens.

“I don’t really (make) this about me right now. Just enjoy the moment. And (whenever) I get my opportunity, I try to do my job. That’s all we care about right now.”

[MORE: Ready or not, Cubs will find out if bullpen is built for October]

The Cubs left Citizens Bank Park after Sunday’s 7-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies with their playoff probability still hovering near 100 percent on the computer simulations.

Up next: Four games in three days against the Pittsburgh Pirates beginning with Tuesday’s doubleheader at PNC Park. Right now: Having something to play for is more important to Castro than having a guaranteed spot in the lineup. 

“It’s awesome,” Castro said. “That’s the moment that we were always talking about, what we were always thinking about in years before when the team was really bad and we weren’t winning games. We were always in last place. Now, we’re coming with different emotion.

“We’re having fun. Whatever day that you get out there, you just try to play hard and help your team to win.”

Theo Epstein’s front office – a group that doesn’t like to sell low and has publicly backed Castro in the past – can figure out what to do with the four years and $38 million left on his contract later.

“I am back on track,” Castro said. “You’ll see a lot of good things from me right now. I feel locked in.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

Castro has accepted his role as a part-time player, hitting .360 (27-for-75) since the Cubs made Addison Russell their franchise shortstop and showing why he still has value.

“He’s handled it well the whole time,” said Anthony Rizzo, the All-Star first baseman who had been put front and center next to Castro in this rebuild. “He’s a competitor. He wants to win. He knows what’s at stake here.”

This is the team concept Joe Maddon pushed since spring training, using matchups to build his lineups each day, pulling his starting pitchers early when necessary and staying away from traditionally defined roles in the bullpen, leaving little room for egos.

“We’re together,” Castro said. “We push for everyone. I don’t push for myself only. I don’t push for Latin (players) only. I push for all (my teammates). I push for (the whole team), because we want to win.

“We come in here, and we’re having fun. We’re jumping around. One goal. It’s play baseball and keep winning.

“This is an awesome time right now. And I think we got this.”

Kyle Hendricks takes in a Blackhawks game with... Bastian Schweinsteiger?

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NBC Sports Chicago

Kyle Hendricks takes in a Blackhawks game with... Bastian Schweinsteiger?

A Cubs pitcher taking in a Blackhawks game in a suite is nothing special, but doing so with a World Cup winner is... different.

Kyle Hendricks was spotted by the cameras of Thursday's Blackhawks-Coyotes broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago. The guy he was standing next to was none other than Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, a World Cup with Germany and Champions League winner with Bayern Munich.

Hendricks is known for being reserved on the mound and in his interviews with the media. Meanwhile, Schweinsteiger was filmed yelling "Bear Down" in the hallway of Toyota Park after a Fire practice earlier in the day.

There's no telling what inspired Schweinsteiger to do this, but he has definitely embraced Chicago sports teams since joining the Fire in March of 2017.

Makes you wonder what Hendricks and Schweinsteiger were talking about. Best places to get brats in Chicago?

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist won't win the Comeback Player of the Year award this winter, but maybe he can take home a Grammy for Best New Artist?

The Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder posted a hilarious video on his Instagram Wednesday night showcasing how he's been spending October after the Cubs were unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs after on the third day of the month.

It's a fantastic music video of Zobrist lip-syncing to Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" while he nearly knocks the TV off the wall of his home by swinging the bat indoors pretending to hit off Clayton Kershaw and frolicking around a field that looks shockingly similar to Hershel's farm from the second season of "The Walking Dead":

View this post on Instagram

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year.... I will wait for you....

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

Zobrist also posted a lengthy caption on his perspective on the Cubs' disappointing end to the season:

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) 
Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not
Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. 
I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. 
What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. 
To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year....
I will wait for you....

Come for the Zobrist lip sync, but stay for the 37-year-old using a bat as a guitar while wearing a sleeveless shirt and rocking an old-timey top hat.

A year ago, Zobrist completely reshaped his offseason workout plan after three straight years of playing deep into October. It appears he's added another new trick to his winter workout — hopping over fences even though there is a clear opening just a foot away.

Hey, whatever works...