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Hitless, blunders: Castro 0-for-4, 2 E’s

HoustAstros v Chicago Cubs

Houston Astros v Chicago Cubs

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Updated: July 25, 2013 6:41AM



Shortstop Starlin Castro’s hitting struggles receive attention because they’re the first offensive problems he has encountered since debuting in 2010.

But his defense has faltered again with seven errors in the last 11 games — and four in the last three — after playing in 18 straight without a fielding mistake.

His two errors Sunday came after he had spent the morning doing extra fielding work.

“There are a lot of things in his defense that need to get better,’’ manager Dale Sveum said. “It was working on his backhand and having a base when you throw the ball, and not being so off balance, and having an understanding of things you have to have in your toolbox.’’

Yet Castro’s first error was on a play in which he backhanded a ground ball by Matt Dominguez but threw past Anthony Rizzo at first. It led to an unearned run.

Sveum said he has no plans to give Castro, 23, a day off. He has played in every game.

“He’s struggling, no doubt about it,’’ Sveum said of Castro, who was the only starter to go hitless in the Cubs’ 16-hit attack. “Hopefully he can relax [during the day off Monday] and get it going in Milwaukee [on Tuesday].’’

Sveum wouldn’t speculate if Castro’s hitting struggles are affecting his fielding.

“You have to ask him,’’ Sveum said.

Castro left quickly after the game.

“Those things are [about] maturity and understanding how to separate the two,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘I haven’t seen him going off the deep end, but these are things everybody goes through. It’s part of the adversity of playing in the major leagues or any major sport. It’s ups and downs, and some guys have peaks and valleys. It’s not a level playing field for them all the time.’’

Adding a hitter

Catcher Steve Clevenger seemed on target to return to the Cubs this week, but he had a setback during the weekend in his rehab from an oblique strain.

Sveum said the team still is likely to add a bench player by Tuesday, when an eight-game, three-city road trip begins in Milwaukee.

One of the eight relief pitchers on the roster will be sent down.

Shaved locks

Rizzo decided to ditch his curly long hair, going back to the short cut he sported last year.

“It wasn’t doing the things I had in mind, so it was time,’’ he said with a smile.

The haircut took place after batting practice but before the game.

Rizzo, a cancer survivor, saved his hair in a plastic bag with plans to auction it off in some way as a fundraiser. His Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation already is planning a “Cook-off for Cancer’’ event Aug. 14.

Hockey-mania

The Cubs are as caught up in the Blackhawks’ quest for the Stanley Cup as the rest of the city.

“Unbelievable game,’’ said Sveum, a diehard hockey fan.

‘‘I always say, ‘If I come back in a second life, I’d be a hockey player.’ It’s such a true sport that you can’t do anything but play hard.’’



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