Starlin Castro has learned to be more careful about whom he trusts
By GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com February 24, 2012 10:26PM
Chicago Cubs' Starlin Castro walks back to the team facility after speaking to reporters about his off-the-field troubles prior to afternoon spring training baseball practice, Friday, Feb. 24, 2012, in Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Updated: March 26, 2012 8:12AM
MESA, Ariz. — Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro’s days of trusting everybody are behind him, he said upon his arrival to spring training Friday.
But how quickly he’s able to say the same about a sexual-assault allegation that has lingered without resolution for almost five months was the biggest question facing any player in camp as the Cubs held their first full-squad workouts.
‘‘In the beginning, it was tough, but I [put] this out of my mind and [focused on] preparation to play baseball,’’ Castro said as he spoke publicly for the first time since reports of the police investigation surfaced nearly two months ago.
Last week, a source told the Sun-Times that the police had not finished interviewing potential witnesses in the case. A source this week said the police have not presented prosecutors with any evidence.
Cubs insiders and others close to Castro say they believe no charges will be filed and expected resolution by now. Castro’s representatives have vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
‘‘I cooperated with the police [by] talking about that,’’ said Castro, who met with Chicago police for several hours last month when he returned from his home in the Dominican Republic to participate in the Cubs Convention. ‘‘I don’t have [anything more] to say about that. I’m ready to play baseball and practice very hard to help this team win this season.’’
A major part of the Cubs’ on-the-field plans this season, Castro also was a major part of the marketing plans before the allegations against the team’s only bankable star were made public.
How the National League’s 2011 hits leader responds now that baseball has begun again figures to be one of the most watched story lines until/unless the police or prosecutor’s office says it has closed the investigation.
‘‘I think he’s fine,’’ said manager Dale Sveum, who met in his office briefly with Castro. ‘‘I’m not going to sit here and say I know him in and out. …
‘‘Obviously, he’s put that all behind him, and it’s just great to have him in camp.’’
Castro, whose 2011 season was his first full season in the big leagues, said he has learned a lot from the events of this past offseason.
‘‘You’ve got to be careful,’’ he said, ‘‘because there’s a lot of bad people in the world.’’
Veteran teammate Alfonso Soriano said he tried to impart that advice to Castro even before last season.
‘‘You have to be careful,’’ Soriano said. ‘‘Believe in your family, believe in a couple of guys you’ve known for a long time, but don’t believe in those guys you know for one day or one night.
‘‘I told him you’re in a big city and you play for the Cubs, and now everybody knows you, so you’re not the same guy you used to be a couple of years ago. … And maybe somebody wants something from you.’’
The allegations arose the day after last season ended when a Chicago woman accused Castro of assaulting her after she had met him at a downtown bar and gone back to his apartment. He already had returned home to the Dominican Republic by the time she went to the police.
‘‘I think he didn’t make a mistake because he didn’t do anything wrong, and I believe in him,’’ Soriano said.