Joe Maddon defends Starlin Castro, has no plans ‘right now’ to replace him

SHARE Joe Maddon defends Starlin Castro, has no plans ‘right now’ to replace him

MINNEAPOLIS – Cubs manager Joe Maddon didn’t seem sure Saturday what it might finally take to eliminate the kind of mental lapses in Starlin Castro that cost another run in Friday night’s loss.

But one thing he doesn’t see happening anytime soon is moving the three-time All-Star off of shortstop, no matter how many people seem to be clamoring for second baseman Addison Russell replacing Castro.

“I haven’t had that conversation with Theo or anybody yet,” said Maddon, who defended Castro and talked about patience with the 25-year-old. “I don’t see that right now as anything I’d like to do.

“I feel my responsibility, and our responsibility, is to try to get him better and to eradicate to some extent the mental mistakes.”

The Cubs also know they run the risk of getting in Castro’s head with a move like that and making the problem worse.

“It could,” Maddon said. “At first Addison would probably make an easier transition. There’s no telling what Starlin would do there.

“I can tell you he’s still beat up by the whole thing,” added Maddon, who talked with Castro about the mental lapse Saturday morning. “He’s wearing it. And he needs our support right now. He doesn’t need our anger or dissent or whatever. He needs our support, and as long as he’s attempting to do the right things I’m on board.”

By all accounts, Castro works hard and is genuine in his desire to improve and in his “embarrassment” over the head-hanging, back-turning gaffe that cost a run after he made a physical error Friday.

The most troubling part of it is that it’s not an isolated incident. It doesn’t happen often, but more than five years into his career the mental fade keeps coming back – whether it’s losing track of the outs, ignoring the runner on third on a long popup down the line or turning his back on a live play.

“I’ve had players like that in the past,” Maddon said. “Sometimes it never goes away. Sometimes it goes away.”

Maddon already is Castro’s fifth big-league manager, and he’s only five months into working with him.

“So maybe I’m a little more patient than a lot of people in this situation,” the manager said. “I still look at his birth certificate. And I know talking to him that I believe it’s going to go away.

“The other part is I don’t know if he’s been attached to a team with this kind of ability to this moment. So maybe in the past the interior need to get rid of this may not have been as dramatic or as pertinent as it is now for him to do it.

“I don’t give up easily. I see a lot of good there.

“It’s our responsibility as a coaching staff to attempt to coach that out of him. And he’s a great pupil. And he listens. And I can’t say anything badly about him, or wrong about him, because he attempts to do the right things and sometimes it just doesn’t turn out that way.”

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