Will Starlin Castro be ready for Cubs’ opener?

Written By BY GORDON WITTENMEYER Staff Reporter Posted: 03/21/2014, 11:34pm

MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs expect to have a better idea by the end of the weekend whether All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro will need to open the season on the disabled list because of the lengthy rehab process for his hamstring injury.

“It’s not even a consideration at this point; he’s doing well,” manager Rick Renteria said.

But Castro hasn’t played in a game since injuring the hamstring in his second official spring game, March 2, and his immediate health is no longer as much of an issue as his readiness to open the season.

Castro recently said he wanted “at least 10” games to get prepared for the season.

After taking grounders and batting practice on the field Friday, Castro said he felt well enough to think about loading up on at-bats by hitting every inning in a minor-league game Saturday and suggested a steady diet of that could make up for the 10-game ideal.

“If you go like every day, every other day, and go to the minor leagues and take more at-bats, I think it could be all right,” said Castro, who added he believes he’ll avoid the DL, “because I’ve really progressed.”

Renteria’s timeline didn’t sound as aggressive, suggesting a heavy at-bat day might come closer to early in the week.

“I have eight days left,” Renteria said.

The Cubs break camp March 29 for Pittsburgh, and it’s at least going to be a close call the way things look now. As good as he says he feels, Castro only Thursday ran the bases for the first time during his practice/rehab program.

And cold March weather generally isn’t considered ideal for iffy hamstrings.

So when does it get too late in the spring for Castro to have enough time to assure he’s ready for the season?

“I’ve got to be able to set up a schedule for him to be participating before I can determine that,” Renteria said. “In the next couple days, hopefully we’ll have a better idea where he’s at.”

Said Castro: I don’t feel anything. Taking ground balls, I feel like it’s normal ground balls, and I don’t feel anything. I don’t feel any tightness, I don’t feel nothing. We’ll see tomorrow or the next day, see how I feel doing baseball activities.”

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

Twitter: @GDubCub

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