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Starlin Castro has fared much better at plate since day off

SATURDAY

CUBS AT MARINERS

The facts: 6:15 p.m., ­Fox-32, 720-AM.

The starters: Jeff ­Samardzija (5-7, 3.39 ERA) vs. Aaron Harang (3-7, 5.29).

Updated: July 30, 2013 8:52AM



SEATTLE — Starlin Castro headed to Seattle batting .400 this season.

That’s “this season” as in the new season he started fresh Wednesday in Milwaukee after his first game off since 2011. The two-time All-Star’s real season had bottomed out at .228 on Sunday.

“I’m a little bit more relaxed,” said Castro, who added he had no problem with the day off, even though it ended what had been the longest active streak of consecutive games in the National League (269).

“I was struggling a lot,” he said. “The thing that happened to me was I was thinking too much. Because I’ve never had that kind of ­[extended slump] happen to me. It was like all game, thinking about it.

“When you feel you’re struggling, you try to get five hits in one at-bat. That’s what happened to me.”

Since getting the two-day breather (the Cubs didn’t play Monday), Castro is 4-for-10 in two games with a double. Manager Dale Sveum isn’t quite ready to declare ­Castro’s problems solved.

“Maybe [there’s] a little attitude change,” Sveum said. “I think the mechanics of his swing are still probably the same. He mixed in some hits, which is nice. Sometimes that’s what gets you going.

“He’s still struggling a little bit I think with the fastball. Hopefully, we just keep gradually understanding what we have to do.”

For now, Castro’s happy with so-far-so-good.

“Just keep positive every day. It’s like I started a new season,” he said.

Personal matter

Matt Garza said he wanted former Tampa Bay Rays teammate and pal Dioner Navarro to catch all his starts. After Garza turned in his top three outings of the season with Navarro behind the plate, Sveum is going to try to ride the wave.

“I’ll probably end up trying to mix and match it to where it turns out that way,” Sveum said, “but if it doesn’t [match up], I’m not going to worry about it.”

Comeback trail

Right-hander Scott ­Baker (elbow surgery) threw his first simulated game this week since a setback in his rehab. Barring another setback, he could make his Cubs debut in August.



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