Castro hitting eighth: "I don't like it"

CHICAGO -- If being pulled mid-game after a mental gaffe last Saturday wasn’t rock bottom for Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, then maybe batting eighth for the first time this season is.

Manager Dale Sveum decided to drop Castro for Tuesday night’s contest against the Washington Nationals after his 1-for-23 (.043) start to the homestand. The normally happy Castro didn’t take it well.

“I don’t like it there,” he said before the game. “It’s tough but I don’t put my head down.

“He asked me if I like it, I told him ‘no.’”

Sveum’s reasoning is simple: others are hitting better. He ran down the list of players that have been hot including Junior Lake, Nate Schierholtz, Welington Castillo and Donnie Murphy. He even went as far to say he liked Darwin Barney’s at-bats better than Castro’s right now. Barney is hitting .218 for the season, Castro is at .242.

“Sometimes you have to understand and play manager sometimes yourself,” Sveum explained. “The way things are going and the way our lineup is and the guys swinging the bats ... sometimes it’s the only spot you’re going to be able to hit in right now.”

Castro isn’t necessarily upset with his manager -- just the situation. He began the season batting second but has bounced around due to inconsistency.

“This year has been tough,” he said. “Hit 5, 6, 7, 3. It’s kind of up and down. Just try to finish strong.”

Castro’s frustration showed in his face as he talked about his struggles. He admitted that maybe he’s listening to too many people.

“You’re not supposed to think,” he said. “Sometimes when you have a tough season you want to listen to everybody but that’s not right. You have to listen to the things that help you but not everything. When you come to home plate you have no idea because you listen to too many things. That’s what I do.”

What’s important to understand is no longer are the Cubs coddling their 23-year old veteran. He’s been benched and now dropped as far as he can go in the order. General manager Jed Hoyer rejected the notion that the trades of Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus could have a negative impact. It’s time for Castro to man up. Sveum has said as much as well. And Castro isn’t disagreeing. He was asked if he misses Soriano, someone he talks with “every day.”

“I’m a man now,” Castro said. “I’m a man. He taught me a lot when he was here but now it’s time for me to do it myself.”

That might mean reverting to some old ways. As aggressive as he was when he first came to the big leagues, he’s changed his style. Castro ranks 24th in the National League in pitches seen (3.90) per plate appearance entering play on Tuesday. That’s the highest of his career. Last season he saw 3.46 per plate appearance, the year before it was 3.67. Seeing more pitches was supposed to help his overall offensive game. It hasn’t worked out that way.

“I like to be aggressive and swing the bat right away,” Castro said. “If I make an out, make it quickly, if I hit a double make it quickly.”

So being patient goes against his instincts but Castro was quick not to blame anyone. He has no problem with current hitting coach James Rowson, though he had his most success with his predecessor, Rudy Jarmaillo.

“People trying to help, not anything wrong (with that),” Castro said.

So whether he’s hitting eighth or leading off, Castro says he’s going back to being aggressive for the final weeks of the season. He’s hoping a strong finish will carry over to next season.

“They put me there (eighth) when I was first called up my first year but not anymore in my career,” he said. “I don’t like it.”