CHICAGO -- The trials and tribulations of Starlin Castro and his teammates has not created any discord inside the Chicago Cubs clubhouse, even though the team’s record has gone downhill fast since astute trades led to a group of young, unaccomplished players and past-their-prime veterans trying to compete in baseball’s toughest division.
The latest external witch hunt blames Castro’s bad season and forgetfulness as the biggest reason the team has the second-worst record in the National league.
“In our situation, every day is an evaluation to see where we are going to be in the future,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “It is, however, an individual game whether you think so or not. You have to take care of your own business and not worry about other things. You need to take the opportunity and run with it.”
The few young veterans left behind after two late July purges of veteran players have learned to stick together. That in itself is a challenge, regardless of poor team play and long losing streaks.
“This is what we do for a living,” Darwin Barney said. “This is our job and it is a lot harder than (what media and fans) think it is. We focus on our team and getting better. We look forward to what we are going to be in the future. We will leave all that other stuff to (the media).”
Barney feels most players ignore things in the press, which in turn helps insulate them from negative feedback.
“Players don’t read the papers,” Barney said. “They don’t do things people think they do. (Media) is a big part of the game and it helps make the game what it is. As a player you can’t get caught up in that.”
Castro has bonded his relationship with teammates by taking responsibility for his concentration lapses.
“Starlin has learned like we all do that taking the blame for something and standing up to the media is a part of the game,” said Dioner Navarro. “Once players understand that you take blame and stand up for your teammates you become a professional. Starlin has understood that and done a really good job of being a man about it.”
Losing another veteran player on Monday with David DeJesus getting traded to Washington is yet another challenge to an ever-changing Cubs clubhouse.
“It is sad and it hurts us when you lose players like (Alfonso) Soriano and (DeJesus),” Navarro said. “We have to keep moving forward. This is our careers on the line so it is upon us as this group as to what we want to do.”
General manager Jed Hoyer understands the tough road players in the Cubs organization face with the player development plan still in the early stages of the process.
“Some of the (expectations for Castro) come with being the brightest light on the team,” Hoyer said. “I think because of that there is probably undue focus on his struggles. He has made some really bad plays and he has to stop doing that.
“The way we look at it is he is having a down year. There is no reason that he can’t get back to playing like he did as a 21-year-old. We need to see how we can get him to be better as a staff. Isolating him and focusing on him as a negative does not help that. He is one of the most talented guys in the game.”