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Cubs' defense stumbles out of gate in '13

CHICAGO -- Although nine games is just a sample size of the 162-game schedule, the Chicago Cubs appear to have some work to do on defense. After a 7-6 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, the Cubs have committed 10 errors, the most in baseball.

An over-aggressive play by shortstop Starlin Castro and two late breaks to first base by pitcher Scott Feldman led to four unearned runs in the fourth inning when the Cubs led 5-0.

"You have to be relaxed," Castro said. "Sometimes I try to be too quick. This was really frustrating because that is a routine play and is not supposed to happen."

Castro improved his defense after the All-Star Game last season, but he still led all shortstops with 27 errors. His botched ground ball and Feldman's two adventurous trips toward first base changed the dynamic of the game.

"It was a pretty good game for eight innings, but we couldn't cover first base twice," said manager Dale Sveum, who also alluded to his staff making poor pitches to the Giants' eighth and ninth hitters as contributing factors in the loss. "We are going to have to get (Feldman) out early (for pitchers fielding practice). That isn't acceptable."

Considerations of lousy spring weather must be made to give a realistic overview of their defensive woes in the early going. Certainly the November-like weather at Wrigley Field has made picking up a baseball difficult.

Sveum and his staff helped get the 2012 team under control after poor defense the first three weeks of the season contributed to a couple of losses. That Cubs started the season with 16 errors in 16 games before righting the ship.

Playing without Gold Glove award winner Darwin Barney at second base has hurt the Cubs in the field. Barney, who has not played this season because of a knee injury, is expected back Tuesday following a weekend rehab stint at Triple-A Iowa.

"It is always hard to watch your team lose," Barney said. "It is even worse when you can't help or do anything about it. Baseball is a lot about making the right reads and going with it. It appears we have made a couple of wrong reads but we will get them worked out. It is early enough in the season to get it turned around."