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Castro returns to lineup; ``he can't get better by not playing'' Sveum says

A contrite Starlin Castro was in the Cubs lineup Sunday, with manager Dale Sveum saying his shortstop won’t learn from his latest mental mistake Saturday by sitting on the bench.

“The way I look at it is obviously he had enough punishment if that’s the right word—to be embarrassed on national TV and with what’s written in the papers is plenty enough,’’ Sveum said Sunday.

“These things happen from time to time and they’re getting less and less,’’ he said of Castro’s mental lapses. “But I don’t think this kid can get better by not playing today and understanding the adversity we all go through in the game.’’

Sveum benched the shortstop Saturday after the fifth inning when Castro caught Matt Carpenter’s pop-up in short left field, but didn’t pay attention to Cardinals runner John Jay at third base. The umpire signaled an infield fly out, but Jay tagged up and scored on the play.

The incident was one of several that have happened in the 23-year-old’s four seasons with the Cubs.

Castro admitted his mistake after the game and apologized to the team.

Sveum met with Castro after Saturday’s game and again before Sunday’s game.

“He knows. He was obviously very remorseful and knows what happened,’’ Sveum said.

The situation this time seemed compounded by Castro’s yearlong struggles at the plate.

“Obviously he’s struggled at the plate as well, and sometimes if things continue, obviously it’s going to be a year you look back on and you want to get rid of—like all of us in our careers,’’ Sveum said.

“But he’s a guy who has to perform for us and be a championship player when we get to that stage of the organization.

“He manned up and knows and takes responsibility and does a lot of things. But obviously we need those [mistakes] to come to a stop. He knows as well as we do. He’s a smart kid.

“The one thing I don’t want the public to think by any means that this is a bad kid,’’ Sveum added. “He’s a great kid and great human being and tries to do the best he can. We have to get that out of him somehow.

“Sometimes things click. Sometimes people hit rock bottom and that’s the last time you see it,’’ Sveum said—but added a caution.

“Let’s not kid ourselves—there could be another gaffe somewhere along the line, too,’’ he said. “There’s the time and place where you hope these things do stop and it all kicks in.

“I have the patience,’’ he said. “We’ve seen this guy at his best. He’s still getting better defensively and learning things that have to be done defensively as well as the struggles at the plate and the adjustments you have to make at the plate.

“I’m not a psychologist. Sometimes those things are what they are and you try to get them to stop,’’ Sveum said of Castro’s lapses. “It’s a fistfight, I’m not going to sit here and say it’s easy, or [easy] for him. I’m not going to put words in his mouth but there’s nobody who wants to do those things. You don’t want to do that in front of three million people watching on TV and 40,000 in the stands.

“For whatever reason, you have to deal with it, but you have to get to another level too.’’

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