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Opener vs. Cubs another reminder of how close Starlin Castro got — twice

Escape from Miami? Hungry for the championship he almost won -- twice, with different teams -- Castro doesn't have much appetite for another rebuild.

MIAMI — Starlin Castro knows he can’t do anything about it. But it doesn’t stop him from wondering why it keeps happening to him.

“It’s passed through my mind sometimes,” said the former Cubs All-Star shortstop, who opens the season Thursday with a stripped-down, no-name Marlins team after getting dealt by the Yankees in the Giancarlo Stanton trade in December.

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For the second time in three winters, Castro — a four-time All-Star — was traded two months after playing in the league championship series for a team expected to be a favorite the next year.

“I don’t want to put it in my mind. I can’t control this,” he said. “Like, you’re so close, so close, and gone. Make the playoffs with the Cubs, next year I’m traded and they won the World Series. Now it’s kind of the same situation. The Yankees have almost the best team in the league now.

“I wish the best for those guys. I never feel bad or negative for them. Someday it’s going to happen for me.”

Castro, an All-Star second baseman for the Yankees last year, was supposed to join Anthony Rizzo as one of the first two cornerstones of the perennial playoff contender the Cubs have built. Both signed long-term deals with Theo Epstein’s front office within nine months of each other in 2012-13.

He looks forward to seeing the few old friends who remain with the Cubs, but he has moved on emotionally from his original team. At 27, with two years plus an option still left on his contract, he’s not looking forward to being part of another lengthy rebuild. He’s hungry for a World Series, the pangs almost constant after coming so close twice, then having second chances snatched away.

Looking for a sleeper in your fantasy draft? Few enter the season with the kind of motivation Castro does. He likes his new teammates, he said, but he also has made it known since the Stanton trade that he’d like to be flipped to a contender.

It looked possible as the Marlins shed payroll all winter. But now it could happen at the trade deadline if Castro starts putting together a big season and contenders start shopping for a middle-infield bat.

“That’s the thing that I’m going to do,” he said. “Try to play hard, play good, and then whatever happens, happens.”