Castro's aim: To improve on defense

ST. LOUIS -- Still not a finished product, highly-talented Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro can amaze and baffle, sometimes at the same time.

He can range to his right or left seemingly with ease, but Saturday’s game showed again that sometimes he isn’t completely accurate with his throws.

Twice in Saturday's 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals Castro uncorked high throws while on the move, pulling first baseman Bryan LaHair off the bag. Getting his feet set and moving in the direction of the target was a goal this spring, but sometimes the hurried nature of the situation eliminates the best-laid plans.

“It’s very frustrating because I have been working hard a lot [this offseason] in the Dominican and here,” Castro said. “Those kind of things aren’t supposed to happen. It’s happening because it’s the game and everybody makes errors. If it happens one time that’s [OK]. Two times? When you know that can happen in the game I don’t stay with that in my mind. I keep playing.”

It was believed that with a former shortstop in Dale Sveum as his manager now, Castro could take the next step in his development on defense, but so far that isn’t happening. He committed his third and fourth errors on Saturday in his ninth game, leaving him on pace for a whopping 72 errors.

His error in the fourth inning opened the door for the Cardinals to score four runs and essentially take over the game for good, although that seemed to be more of a product of Cubs starter Chris Volstad not making the pitches when he needed to make them.

Other than his defense, though, Castro has been off to a hot start. He had two more hits Saturday to give him a .371 batting average and his six stolen bases led the National League before play Saturday.

“That’s what I want to do, put everything on the same level, defense, running, hitting and everything,” Castro said. “Now it’s been tough with a couple of errors on defense but I think I can get it level and get everything at the same spot.”

At the ripe young age of just 22, Castro is already respected enough by his teammates that they don’t sweat things like a two-error game from their shortstop. Volstad knows what Castro is going through as a young player breaking in the major leagues and likes what he sees.

“He’s doing a great job,” the 25-year-old Volstad said. “There are no worries there. He has a powerful arm and it’s going to happen. You’re also going to make bad pitches. That’s just the way the game is.”