Recovery time for Starlin Castro’s injured hammy: ‘7 to 10 days’
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter March 3, 2014 10:25PM
Updated: April 5, 2014 6:33AM
MESA, Ariz. — Shortstop Starlin Castro’s hamstring injury is expected to sideline him for “seven to 10 days,” manager Rick Renteria said Monday.
But Castro’s lost time could be the first-year manager’s gain, as he potentially gets even more familiar, more quickly, with his middle infielders.
“It allows us to just see other guys in that position and open up the ability to recognize if Barney can go over there and Boni,” Renteria said, “because a lot of those guys might be playing over there sometime.”
He already planned to use second baseman Darwin Barney at short this spring with an eye toward backing up Castro, he said. Utility man Emilio Bonifacio, top prospect Javy Baez and even second-base prospect Arismendy Alcantara could get time at short in Castro’s absence.
Baez already is making good use of his time. He is 4-for-6 since taking over for Castro in the second inning Sunday, including a mammoth home run to center off the Brewers’ Marco Estrada on the first pitch he saw Monday.
He even made a basket catch of a pop-up down the third-base line after a long run on his first defensive chance.
If he keeps that up, he could make things look interesting this spring — even though the Cubs have no intention of having him open the season anywhere but Class AAA Iowa.
And barring a series of unforeseeable events in the next four weeks, he’s no threat to Castro’s job.
“We’re just being cautious with [Castro],” Renteria said. “It shouldn’t set him back at all for the regular season.”
Castro, who was hurt on his final stride during a stolen-base attempt, suffered a hamstring injury to his left leg about this time last spring and missed two weeks. This one isn’t nearly as severe, said Castro, who had trouble walking immediately after that injury.
“This doesn’t seem to be anything like last year, I guess to the degree that was,” Renteria said. “He’s walking around pretty good right now.”
Kyuji Fujikawa, the $9.5 million reliever who pitched in 12 games for the Cubs before requiring Tommy John surgery last season, continued his rehab with a third bullpen session of the spring.
“He’s looking better and better every time he throws,” pitching coach Chris Bosio said. “His arm is crisp, he’s got a better finish. Body language, the command that he’s got and showing a lot of conviction on his throws in the bullpen.”
The Cubs expect a return near midseason, and Bosio said Fujikawa remains “on course.”
“But he looks like he’s in better shape,” he added, noting some pitchers come back stronger from the surgery. “Potentially, this could be a blessing for him. There are a lot of good signs.”
The game Monday was the first of nine spring games for the Cubs in which the new replay challenge rule will be in effect. It wasn’t used by either manager Monday. The next one is Friday against the Angels.
◆ Newcomer James McDonald, who experienced “fatigue” in his spring debut Friday, has played catch the last two days without problems and is expected to pitch again in a game Friday.