Cubs

Sveum, Castro have closed-door meeting

842233.png

Sveum, Castro have closed-door meeting

Starlin Castro is in the Cubs lineup for Saturdays game against the Reds one day after he drew manager Dale Sveums ire for a baserunning blunder.
Sveum said after Fridays five-error loss to the Reds that he was unsure if Castro would play Saturday, and he said he would talk to the 22-year-old shortstop.
He had a long talk with Castro on Saturday, and the Cubs' shortstop is batting fifth against Reds starter Bronson Arroyo.
I talked to him for quite a while today, but nothing that I really want to share with anybody, Sveum said. Its more of a closed-doors meeting and it went well. He was completely, basically, I dont know if remorseful is the right word, but he knew he made a big mistake in a certain part of the game, five runs down. You have to be a little more prepared for that situation and do a little better job there, so it went good.
With the Cubs trailing by five runs in the sixth inning Friday, Castro led off with a single and attempted to steal second. On Josh Vitters single to right field. Castro didnt watch the ball and slowed down as he was decoyed by second baseman Brandon Phillips, who put up his glove as if he was going to receive a throw. Castro realized the ball was in play and tried to advance to third, where the Reds threw him out.
Though Castro is just 22 years old, hes in his third major-league season, and he told Sveum there was no excuse for his mistake.
I dont treat him any different than anybody else, Sveum said. He just happens to be a big focal point of the team because he is our shortstop and the shortstop that will be here for a long time.
The guys made leaps and bounds defensively and did a good job as far as concentration for most of the time. A lot of times, myself included as well as the media, blows him up as much as anybody else. Some other people have made some pretty bad mistakes too, but it doesnt get blown up as much either.
Sveum said he no longer sees consistent mental lapses from Castro.
Hes still an elite shortstop in the big leagues, Sveum said. Some people might have less errors, but a lot of people havent been able to do the things he can do at shortstop either.
Meanwhile, outfielder Brett Jackson is out of the Cubs lineup after he was involved in a collision in the eighth inning of Fridays game.
He felt like he got hit by a truck more than anything, Sveum said. More of a whiplash type of effect with that collision in center field.
Before Saturdays game, the Cubs also made roster moves, activating right-handed pitcher Lendy Castillo from the 15-day disabled list and optioning left-handed pitcher Scott Maine to Triple-A Iowa. Castillo was 0-1 with a 7.04 ERA in seven games with the Cubs before he went on the disabled list with a left groin strain. Maine was 1-1 with a 4.79 ERA in 21 games with the Cubs.

As he decides what's next, it's clear Ben Zobrist has something left in the tank

As he decides what's next, it's clear Ben Zobrist has something left in the tank

When Ben Zobrist rejoined the Cubs active roster on Sept. 1, it was fair to wonder how much he could provide offensively. After all, he spent the previous four months on the restricted list while tending to a family matter, last playing a big-league game on May 6.

Zobrist did no baseball activities from May to mid-July, only working out to stay in shape. Although he eventually ramped things up, he played in just 12 minor league rehab games in August before returning to the Cubs, a small number compared to the length of his absence.

Even Zobrist admitted upon his big-league return that his timing at the plate wasn’t where he wanted it to be. And yet, what he did in September was nothing short of impressive. In 21 games, he posted a .284/.377/.388 slash line, performing at a level many couldn’t have expected, considering the circumstances.

Zobrist's impact on the Cubs' lineup goes beyond what you see in the box score, however. Not only is he a switch hitter with some pop, but he has a keen eye for the strike zone and frequently puts together professional at-bats.

On a Cubs team that tends to expand the zone, Zobrist’s presence mattered. In his second game back, for example, he went 3-for-3 with two walks, helping the Cubs beat the Brewers 10-5. After the game, Brewers starter Chase Anderson pointed out how different the Cubs' lineup looks with Zobrist in it.

"They play the matchups really well and Zobrist makes that team so much better," Anderson said on Sept. 5. "Just bringing his presence to the top of the lineup, it changes their dynamic a little bit."

Where Zobrist stands entering 2020, though, is currently unclear.

Zobrist is set to hit free agency after the World Series and will turn 39 next May. Therefore, it’s possible that he’s played his last game in the big leagues, as he has little, if anything, left to prove at this stage in his career.

Ahead of the Cubs’ season finale on Sept. 29, Zobrist told reporters in St. Louis that he hasn’t thought about how much time he’ll take before deciding what’s next for him. His family situation will obviously play a big role in his decision, but if September showed anything, it's that he still has something left in the tank.

“I’m 38 but I got that feeling all over again,” Zobrist said following the Cubs’ season finale, a 9-0 loss to the Cardinals in which he pitched a scoreless inning. “Just really fun, you know? It’s a fun game. Sometimes you don’t come out on the winning end, but you still gotta have fun with it and enjoy it. I enjoyed it today."

The Cubs roster is expected to undergo changes this offseason, with center field, second base and the leadoff spot being just a few areas the team will look to address. The latter two spots became revolving doors during Zobrist’s absence, as the Cubs struggled to replace what he brought offensively.

Zobrist is past the point in his career of being an everyday player. However, he still could be a useful asset for the Cubs in a supporting role, bringing his veteran approach to the lineup when he plays while still offering an experienced voice in the clubhouse.

“I take a lot of joy in that role, just being a supporting guy and being a part of winning clubs and part of winning atmospheres and cultures,” Zobrist said on Sept. 29. “The Chicago Cubs have been that since I’ve been around. This year we didn’t make the playoffs — we still have a winning record — (but) the kind of relationships that are built here and the culture that’s been built here is definitely a winning one.”

After the Cubs announced that they wouldn’t retain Joe Maddon for 2020, Zobrist acknowledged that more changes were likely coming in the offseason. Only time will tell what that means for the veteran utilityman — should he continue playing.

Whether he retires or joins a different team for 2020, though, Zobrist will look back on his four seasons with the Cubs fondly.

“(They’re) just the most passionate fans I’ve ever met,” he said of Cubs fans. “They’re very loyal, very passionate and it’s been such a pleasure to be a part of that team that beat the curse back in ’16, so I feel that still, when I see Cubs fans, there’s a lot of them that hug me and thank me for being a part of that.

“I’ll always look back at [my] time here — I don’t know what’s going to happen in the offseason — but look back at these four years and [be] very grateful to be able to be part of a group like this and be able to do what we did while I was here.”

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.

Cubs Talk Podcast: An ode to Joe Maddon and looking to the next era

maddon_pic.jpg
USA Today

Cubs Talk Podcast: An ode to Joe Maddon and looking to the next era

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Tony Andracki, Kelly Crull, Scott Changnon and Jeff Nelson give us their memories of Joe Maddon's time with the Cubs and discuss David Ross and Joe Espada's candidacy to be the next manager.

01:30 Kelly's memories of Joe from the perspective of a reporter

06:00 Going back to Hazleton with Joe

07:45 Joe's legacy as manager of the Cubs

16:00 How Joe impacted Javy Baez' career

18:00 David Ross and Joe Espada may be the leaders to replace Joe Maddon.

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

Subscribe:

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.