MIAMI – The good, the bad and the utterly Starlin were all on display in the span of about 20 minutes late in the Cubs’ 5-1 victory over the Miami Marlins Monday night.
After committing his 12th error of the season, on a routine grounder to his left, in the bottom of the seventh, Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro hit his fourth homer of the season with two out in the top of the eighth, first since May 8.
Castro has nine errors since the end of April — six in the last 11 games — and almost all on routine plays. It’s not like he’s not good enough; this one followed an exceptional play in the fifth, diving toward left-center to snare a popup.
Manager Joe Maddon continues to insist he’s not concerned about lapses by three-time All-Star – who was bumped down in the order to sixth Monday because he’s been struggling at the plate.
“Even though he’s he’s been in the league many years, he still has ways to grow defensively,” said Maddon, who added it’s about approach and technique. “And he’s going go to grow. We’re going to help him grow. But I’ll stand by this guy. I think he’s awesome.
“By the end of this season you’re going to see him making all of those plays.”
Maddon said Castro’s big defensive flaw – like a lot of players – is not being aggressive enough on routine plays.
“Replay the tape [on Monday’s error]. What did he not do?” Maddon said. “He did not come and get the ball. Anytime he doesn’t come and get the ball, that’s when it breaks down for him. But it’s not just him – any infielder.
“That’s the thing we’ve been talking about with him, ad nauseam, actually. Just to really come and get the ball. … I don’t think it’s like a complacent moment. For me it’s all anticipatory. When you’re really good on defense consistently, you’re always anticipating.”
Meanwhile, the power he showed Monday – with a homer that was well up into the blue seats above the Cubs’ bullpen in left — was something Maddon said he expects to see more of.
Castro was on pace for more than 20 at midseason last year and finished with a career-high 14 despite missing the final month with an ankle injury.
“Absolutely, there’s no doubt in my mind,” Maddon said. “I just think he’s overboogy-ing a little bit. He really wants to do well; everybody does. I think it’s manifesting itself in pulling off the ball a little bit.”
Maddon batted the recently struggling Castro down in the sixth spot in the order and met with him to deliver a message to relax more. Castro was hitting .342 with a .796 OPS through April 28 – but just .215 with five extra-base hits and three walks since, even after the Monday homer.
“I just think he’s trying a little too hard,” Maddon said. “He’s been getting after it really hard. I asked him just to back off a little bit, just go play and have a good time and see what happens.”