Struggling Castro gets his first day off

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade decided to give Starlin Castro his first day off of the season against Bronson Arroyo and the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday afternoon. Since going 4-for-5 on April 23, Castro has been mired in a slump, with only seven hits in his last 47 at-bats. Around the time his struggles started, Castro began occasionally batting in the third spot in the lineup, but Quade said that’s just a coincidence.

“I’ve noticed no difference in [Castro’s] struggles [in the leadoff spot or the three-hole],” Quade said. “And, oh, by the way, when he’s leading off, he’s hitting against left-handers. So there’s a whole lot of stuff that goes into this.”

Quade said that Castro, like most young players, needs to rest more for mental than physical reasons, especially considering the Cubs just had a day off on Thursday.

Castro is 25-for-59 (.424) leading off compared to 6-for-38 (.158) hitting third this season. But as Quade pointed out, lately it didn’t seem to matter where Castro hit, he’s still struggled. Quade attributed Castro’s troubles to pitchers around the league having more video available on him and making the necessary adjustments.

“I think Castro’s seeing less strikes now. [Pitchers say], we got this kid here, if the ball is in that 17-inch square, he whacks the daylights out of it,” Quade said, “Let’s see if we can get his to swing when it’s four inches off the plate. That’s one of the subtle adjustments [he’ll have to make]. As that gets better, look out.”

Quade didn’t seem to be aware that today was the one-year anniversary of Castro’s major league debut. Castro hit a home run in his first at-bat and added a triple later on, driving in six runs that night in Cincinnati. Quade was serving as then-manager Lou Piniella’s third base coach that evening. Quade admitted that no one really expected Castro to deliver in such impressive fashion that night, although they were well aware of Castro’s immense talents.

Despite Castro’s recent struggles, Quade has been quite impressed with both his ability on the field and how he’s kept his head on straight the entire time.

“[From Double-A] to the cover of [“Sports Illustrated”], it’s been a nice road, one that is still long and there is still plenty of work to do,” Quade said, “He’s kept his head about him. He’s a pretty even-keeled kid. I don’t think he’s let all this go to his head, that’s for sure.”