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Cubs will bring in experts to give conduct seminars

StarlCastro shortstop waves crowd as he is introduced as part 2012 Chicago Cubs team Friday evening Chicago HiltTowers. 720 S.

Starlin Castro, shortstop, waves to the crowd as he is introduced as part of the 2012 Chicago Cubs team Friday evening at Chicago Hilton and Towers. 720 S. Michigan. Friday, January 13, 2012 | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: March 20, 2012 8:25AM

MESA, Ariz. — In the wake of sexual-assault allegations against shortstop Starlin Castro, the Cubs plan to bring in experts from Northeastern University’s Center for Sport in Society to speak to minor-leaguers and big-leaguers about conduct away from the ballpark.

The seminars are part of an organizational overhaul, including the creation of a ‘‘Cubs Way’’ manual for staff, under the new front-office regime.

‘‘They’ve had a lot of experience dealing with professional athletes,’’ Cubs president Theo Epstein said of Northeastern’s center, ‘‘just giving them the right tools to deal with situations off the field, emphasizing not only the right decisions to make but the right values with which to conduct our careers and themselves off the field.’’

Nearly five months after a Chicago woman accused Castro, 21, of assault, and more than a month after police questioned Castro for several hours, no charges have been filed against him. His representatives have vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

‘‘I know there’s been full cooperation from every end,’’ Epstein said. ‘‘I expect Starlin in camp. He’s getting ready for the season. I don’t expect it to be a distraction.’’

Epstein said he expects to get an update ‘‘at some point’’ from authorities, but he has heard nothing more since he talked about it at the Cubs Convention last month.

‘‘It’s too sensitive an issue; I don’t want to speculate,’’ Epstein said. ‘‘What we said at the convention stands. There’s a lot of concern about it, and our players have a responsibility to conduct themselves in the right way off the field as well as on the field.’’

That’s where Northeastern’s experts come in.

‘‘I think sometimes we take for granted these young kids, because they’re great at what they do on the field, that they know how to handle all the tough circumstances on and off the field,’’ Epstein said. ‘‘We coach them on the field and expect them to just make great decisions off the field. We need to give them great coaching off the field and give them the tools to make the right decisions.

‘‘I don’t want to get into great detail about what we tell these guys off the field, but there are high standards. The ‘Cubs Way’ means high standards on the field and off the field. There’s got to be accountability wearing this uniform.’’

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