Second-year shortstop Starlin Castro was the topic of conversation all weekend at Wrigley Field after he opened the season 8-for-13 in his first two games. In Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Pirates, Castro was 3-for-4 with two triples, a single and a walk.
Manager Mike Quade moved Castro up from the second spot in the order to leadoff Sunday. It was Castro's second career start as a leadoff man. He went 0-for-4 in the top spot last Aug. 8.
Quade is a matchups manager, and he said they dictated a lineup with Castro in the No. 1 spot. Right fielder Kosuke Fukudome will get the bulk of starts against right-handed pitching, but he was just 1-for-9 against the Pirates' Ross Ohlendorf, who pitched against the Cubs Sunday. Against left-handers, Quade will usually go with second baseman Jeff Baker.
"To me, it's a heck of a compliment to him," Quade said of Castro. "I looked at the mix of guys I wanted to play today. (Fukudome) wasn't in the lineup today, so where are we going with that? As I've said repeatedly all spring and here early on, this kid has really been something. I talked to Rudy (hitting coach Jaramillo) about it. I talked to Star about it. He's fine. He doesn't care where he hits."
Castro batted .300 last season, but the Cubs were less than pleased with his fielding. He made 27 errors and suffered from lapses in concentration at times. But since spring training, Castro has looked much improved. He entered his rookie season as arguably the top prospect in the Cubs' system, and he is impressing people in the early going.
"Right before your eyes," Quade said. "Maybe I haven't thought enough about some of the mistakes he made last year and maybe some of these things that we didn't see from him last year that we're seeing now."
He's also caught the eye of veteran players.
"Incredible instincts," said first baseman Carlos Pena. "I don't think you can teach that. It's kind of like a natural feel for the game. That's the way it seems to go for him."
Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.