CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum sat down shortstop Starlin Castro for a lengthy heart-to-heart discussion Saturday, but Alfonso Soriano didn’t wait that long.
After a rough game Friday when Castro made a fielding error on a slow roller to shortstop and then got himself thrown out on the bases when he lost track of the ball, Soriano wasted little time to take advantage of a teachable moment.
“I talked to him yesterday because he’s young in age but he’s not young anymore in the big leagues,” Soriano said. “He’s 22 years old but is in his third year in the big leagues so I talked to him yesterday. I said you can make an error in the field, throw the ball away, make some catches, but those errors mentally we cannot make it.”
Soriano considers this a critical time in Castro’s development. As the Cubs move forward after trading some veterans, everybody needs to be accountable for their actions and Soriano wasn’t pleased to see Castro trying to steal a base down five runs and then losing track of the ball while getting decoyed at second base.
Perhaps the bigger issue is that Castro has a history of mental lapses, including one in early June when he forgot the number of outs in a game at San Francisco.
“It depends on him if he wants to make it to another level or he wants to go down a level.” Soriano said. “I cannot control his mentality. He’s the only guy that can control that situation. I can help him and maybe give him motivation and things like that but I cannot control those errors mentally because that’s on him.”
Sveum made no effort to hide his frustration with Castro after Friday’s game.
“There were just a few things taken for granted today and some things aren’t acceptable when you just take some things for granted,” Sveum said after a difficult game when the Cubs lost after making five errors. “And it wasn’t just the base running blunder either.”
Sveum followed up on his plan to have a talk with Castro on Saturday, but he did not bench him like he thought of doing.
“I talked to him for quite a while today but nothing that I really want to share with anybody,” Sveum said. “It’s more of a closed-doors meeting and it went well. He was completely ... I don’t know if remorseful is the right word, but he knew he made a big mistake in a certain part of the game five runs down. You have to be a little more prepared for that situation and do a little better job there so it went good.”
Soriano was a little more forthcoming over his discussion with Castro.
“It can be hard (to be so young), but we play baseball because we love baseball and that’s what we do for a living; that’s our career,” Soriano said. “We have to prepare 100 percent. Like I said to him yesterday, it’s not only catch the ball and throw the ball and hit the ball. This game is more mental. You have to prepare mentally and physically too. Not just physical. You have to prepare yourself mentally and all those little errors mentally cannot happen in this game.”
Soriano wanted to get across that while it’s important to have fun while playing the game, there is a fine line to draw since it is also your job.
“He’ll be fine, but like I said, he needed motivation,” Soriano said. “He has to concentrate more on the game because it’s only a 3-3½ hour game. After that you can do whatever you want. You have plenty of time.”