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Cubs’ Starlin Castro makes third All-Star Game; Anthony Rizzo has a shot

WASHINGTON — For all that has gone wrong for the Cubs this season, the news they got Sunday might be as important for what it says about their direction as it is for the individual honors.

Shortstop Starlin Castro was selected to the National League All-Star team in voting by players for the third time in four full seasons. First baseman Anthony Rizzo is among five players who are part of fan voting for the final NL roster spot. It would be Rizzo’s first appearance in the All-Star Game, which is July 15 at Target Field in Minneapolis.

For Castro, the selection meant redemption after a 2013 season of struggles and criticism from inside and outside the organization. It also meant achieving a goal he set from Day 1 of spring training.

“I think I was more excited this year [than the first selection] after a really bad year last year, mentally, when a lot of bad things happened,” Castro said, crediting strength coach Tim Buss for joining him in the Dominican Republic for a conditioning program. “I think that’s gone away from me this year, and it feels exciting. It’s awesome.”

If Rizzo makes it, the Cubs would have two 24-year-old All-Stars just as they reach the brink of big-league debuts for some of their top-ranked prospects over the next year.

“If anything, maybe it just validates the process, the time everybody’s putting in and the steps that are being taken to move the organization forwards,” first-year manager Rick Renteria said. “There have been a few clubs in the past I guess that had six, seven, eight All-Stars. Hopefully, the Cubs are going in that direction, and by the same token playing good baseball and maybe winning long term.”

It’s time, Rizzo said.

“We all feel it,” he said. “A couple years ago, I think people knew we were a little ways away. Now a few years later, I think we’re just coming to that time where it’s about time to start contending.”

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