Bulls

Cubs challenge Starlin Castro to be a leader

784816.png

Cubs challenge Starlin Castro to be a leader

MILWAUKEE Everyone understood that Year 3 would be a revealing look into the type of player Starlin Castro could ultimately become.

Last year Castro thought those billboards opposite Derek Jeter were cool, and his Why not? attitude leads him to believe he could be a Cal Ripken Jr.-type, a franchise player who spends his entire career in one place.

A Cubs official once mentioned Edgar Renteria as a reference point. Ex-manager Mike Quade may have singled out Castro too often, but the tough love worked well for Miguel Tejada back when they were together in Double-A ball.

Castro is immensely talented, and still only 22 years old, but the mental lapses make you wonder sometimes.

Its my fault, Castro said. I know that I have to concentrate. (Its) a new day, (so) dont think about yesterday and dont let that bad kind of thing happen again.

Manager Dale Sveum had a talk with Castro on Tuesday, some 24 hours after the young shortstop forgot how many outs there were and kept jogging off the field, not throwing to first base on a potential double-play ball.

Sveum seemed to reach a breaking point after Mondays 3-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants, threatening to sit Castro and challenging him to get his head in the game.

Sveum watched Castro (3-for-5) respond with a good all-around game in a 10-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Youre not going to bench a guy for something like that, Sveum said. Youre going to bench guys for not playing hard or not preparing and things like that. Thats just one of those unfortunate things that happen and you try to eliminate (them).

Hes had a few incidents, obviously, but people forget that hes come a long way defensively. He hasnt made a fielding error in maybe six weeks now, so were forgetting about the big picture that the guys still hitting .300.

Beyond wins and losses, Sveums coaching staff figures to be judged on how young players like Castro develop.

For the most part, Sveum likes the way Castro has gone about his business, studying video and spray charts and buying into the defensive shifts and positioning. The manager appeared to be backing away from his last straw comments.

Im not reneging on what I said, Sveum said. He knows that its the last straw, meaning a number of things, not just something like a brain fart on the field. Its the whole package of doing everything you can to make yourself and the people around you better.

Alfonso Soriano essentially delivered the same message to Castro.

You take the talent that hes got, he (can be overconfident), Soriano said. You forget the part of the game thats most important mental. Hes got his ability physically, but sometimes mentally he doesnt even think about it, because he knows hes got big talent.

You can make an error throwing, drop the ball, but mentally its not acceptable. Maybe once, its acceptable, because we are human, but not a couple times.

You shouldnt underestimate the mental toughness it took to leave the Dominican Republic and get to the majors in less than 1,000 minor-league at-bats.

Castro also showed drive in learning how to speak English and becoming comfortable communicating with the media and people around the organization. Hes expected to take charge now.

All the great shortstops of all-time were always commanding the field defensively, Sveum said. Thats what goes with that position. You have to be the leader and understand that youre the one who makes everybody around you better, whether its your throws (or) the double plays (or) making sure somebodys in the right spot.

As Theo Epsteins front office ramps up the rebuilding project, how Castro responds the next four months will be telling.

Its his job to take control of the situation, Sveum said. Its that time where you got to step up and start making people better around you.

Denzel Valentine suffers setback on injured left ankle, will be reevaluated in 2 weeks

screen_shot_2018-10-20_at_7.13.31_pm.png
USA TODAY

Denzel Valentine suffers setback on injured left ankle, will be reevaluated in 2 weeks

Denzel Valentine’s troublesome left ankle is going to keep him on the sideline for at least the next two weeks. Fred Hoiberg said Saturday before the Bulls’ home opener against the Detroit Pistons that Valentine is suffering from a bone bruise in the ankle he sprained on the second day of training camp. Valentine will be evaluated in two weeks.

“It sucks because of all the work I put in this summer and being around the guys you want to be out there so bad,” he said. “Things happen for a reason, and now that we know what’s going on I at least have a time frame and be patient with it; it’s bad news but good news at the same time as it gives me time to get ready.”

Valentine had been practicing earlier in the week and appeared close to a return after spraining the ankle on Sept. 25. But the third year wing complained of discomfort in the ankle and missed practice on Friday. A scan of the left ankle revealed the bone bruise, and Hoiberg wouldn’t speculate on when exactly Valentine might return.

It’s the same ankle Valentine had surgery on in May 2017. Valentine also missed the last two weeks of last season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. The injury couldn’t come at a worse time for Valentine or the Bulls, who are in desparate need of help both in the backcourt and on the wing.

Though Valentine isn’t a true point guard, he averaged 3.2 assists per game off the bench last season. The Bulls could use that kind of production when Kris Dunn returns on Monday, as Cameron Payne and Ryan Arcidiacono haven’t exactly showed promise in the early going.

Instead, Valentine is on the mend and it’s unclear when he might return. Given he’s had surgery on the same ankle before, the Bulls will be cautious upon his return.

“I’m a fighter, I’m not going to quit; just deal with the hand dealt," Valentine said. "I can’t sit here and be negative, I just got to fight, stay mentally strong and this will be bittersweet when I come back and have a great year.”

Still in search of guard depth, Bulls reportedly 'planning to sign' Shaquille Harrison

Still in search of guard depth, Bulls reportedly 'planning to sign' Shaquille Harrison

The Bulls are still scrambling to add depth at point guard and found another body to throw in the rotation.

According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, the Bulls "are planning to sign" Shaquille Harrison. Harrison was waived by the Suns on Monday.

In order to complete the move, the Bulls are reportedly waiving center Omer Asik.

Harrison went undrafted out of Tulsa in 2016. The Suns signed him and sent him to the then NBA D-League. Last season, the 25-year-old from Kansas City played in 23 games and made two starts in the NBA. He averaged 6.6 points and 2.4 assists in 16.7 minutes per game.

The Suns signed Jamal Crawford earlier this week and waived Harrison. The Bulls apparently have swooped in.

This move comes just six days after the Bulls added Tyler Ulis, who was also waived by the Suns. Ulis didn't play in the season-opening loss at Philadelphia.

Kris Dunn will miss his second straight game Saturday against the Pistons. His absence against the Sixers showed the lack of depth at guard for the Bulls. Cam Payne started at point guard and split minutes with Ryan Arcidiacono. Payne went 0-for-4 in 21 minutes and led coach Fred Hoiberg to say potential lineup changes are "still up in the air."

Harrison can now join Payne, Arcidiacono and Ulis in a battle for backup minutes at point guard when Dunn returns to the lineup.