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Cubs All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro’s hamstring injury just a scare


Starlin Castro

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Updated: April 1, 2013 12:12PM

MESA, Ariz. — Manager Dale Sveum’s first thought when he saw his best player pull up limping as he ran to first base in Wednesday’s spring-training game:

“It was not a good thought,” Sveum said. “I didn’t know if it was a knee or something, the way he was hobbling. Thank God, nothing’s real major at all.”

Shortstop Starlin Castro put a scare into Sveum — and himself, he said — when his left hamstring tightened up while running out a fourth-inning grounder.

But with just more than a month left before the season starts, the Cubs believe they’ve dodged a key injury to a two-time All-Star who played all 162 games last season.

‘‘We got a pretty good diagnosis, actually,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘He was kind of jogging around in the training room a little bit after he got worked on. It was more tight than a pull or anything like that.’’

Castro said he didn’t expect to miss much time and doesn’t see it as any threat to being ready for the start of the season.

‘‘Let’s see tomorrow how I feel and see what the trainer tells me,’’ he said, ‘‘but I think it’s going to be good.’’

Castro, who plans to play 162 games again this year, said it felt more like a charley horse than an actual injury. He has not been on the disabled list in his career.

‘‘I don’t want to be hurt, man,’’ he said. ‘‘I feel too good this year to be starting the season hurt. I feel ready to make some good things happen this year.”

Castro might not have been hurt at all if he hadn’t successfully lobbied Sveum for an extra at-bat.

‘‘I told him in batting practice that I wanted three at-bats,’’ said Castro, who then smiled. ‘‘Next time, two.”

Garza to throw?

Injured pitcher Matt Garza (left lat strain) underwent an extensive upper-body workout that could have him ready to start playing catch Thursday for the first time since suffering the injury Feb. 17.

‘‘Everything went great,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘So as long as he comes in tomorrow pretty good, there’ll probably be a really good chance he might start a little light toss, from 90 feet or so.”

Barring a setback, that keeps Garza on a timeline that should allow him to avoid starting the season on the DL.

Baez blast

After the Castro news, the buzz belonged to top prospect Javy Baez, whose one-hop shot straight at Dee Gordon nearly took off the head of the Dodgers shortstop, who barely got out of the way.

Sveum said he’d never seen a ball hit harder and compared it to balls former Brewers teammate Gary Sheffield used to hit.

Baez, 20, said that’s the first time he has done that to a middle infielder since he was drafted in 2011. He did say it happened at least a few times in high school.

‘‘They’d like to get out of the way because they don’t know where the ball’s going,’’ he said. ‘‘If you hit the ball like that all the time, you’re going to feel great.’’

Making the tourney

Third baseman Ian Stewart (quad) hasn’t been cleared for batting practice, but Sveum said he was allowed to participate in the camp bunting tournament.

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