MILWAUKEE -- It got to the point where Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro asked his family to stop calling him. He also shut down use of his Instagram account. Castro was tired of all the trade rumors leading up to Friday’s non-waiver deadline.
“I don’t want to go anywhere,” Castro said after driving in two runs in the Cubs’ 4-1 win over Milwaukee on Friday night. “I was a little frustrated thinking about this. Now it’s over, [I can] just try and finish my season strong.”
It’s been anything but a strong season so far, but maybe the final two months will be different now that Castro knows he’s not going anywhere -- unless there’s a surprise waiver deal in the making, of course. If he stays with the Cubs, more nights like Friday's would be nice from the three-time All-Star. He got down in the count twice before driving in runs with a base hit in the second inning and a fielder’s choice in the fourth.
“He’s a good player who has not had a good season,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said before the game. “The best thing we can do is support him and put him in a position to turn his season around. As quickly as possible.”
Multiple reports had Epstein and the Cubs dangling Castro, but no one took the bait. Now that the deadline has passed, the Cubs are hoping he finally gets hot. Friday was a good start. In his third at-bat, he hit a line drive that second baseman Scooter Gennett snared, preventing Castro from a third RBI.
“More than anything, I think Starlin was most relaxed,” Joe Maddon said after the trade deadline passed. “I noticed that in pregame.
“We just need him to hit like he normally does, and once he does that, then, ‘Yeah he made a mistake on defense, no big deal.’”
In other words, if Castro can get hot at the plate, maybe he’ll feel a little less pressure. He knows he’s been forcing the issue too much.
“Don’t try and do too much on one pitch,” he said. “Take it out of the box and breathe. That’s the thing that kills me. I feel too fast, like I can’t breathe.”
Maddon keeps reminding everyone that Castro had a big August last season after the trade deadline came and went. Knowing he’ll be here for the moment can only help.
“Even my family calls me and says, ‘Hey, we see on the news [about trades].' That’s why I say, ‘Don’t call me for that,’” Castro said.
If there’s a time for him to help carry the offensive load, it’s now. Chicago is in the thick of the playoff hunt, a notion Castro has never felt before as a Cub.
“Every day just come in here and show them something,” he declared. “It can all change in a month.”