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Cubs’ Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney playing at opposite extremes

The Cubs’ Reed Johnsis hit by pitch by Reds reliever Sam LeCure sixth inning Friday Wrigley Field.  |

The Cubs’ Reed Johnson is hit by a pitch by Reds reliever Sam LeCure in the sixth inning Friday at Wrigley Field. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: June 8, 2011 12:22AM



Today is the one-year anniversary of Starlin Castro’s major-league debut, when he made history with six RBI against the Cincinnati Reds.

But as Castro faces the Reds again, he’s dealing with his first slump of the season.

‘‘We’ll keep a close eye on him,’’ manager Mike Quade said. ‘‘He’s going through a rough stretch, but he’s not alone in that.’’

Castro’s brilliant April — his 40 hits were the second-highest in Cubs history behind Mark Grace’s 42 in 1996 — has been followed by an 11-game stumble in which he’s hitting .149 (7-for-47). But Castro remained in the No.  3 spot Friday, and Quade said he will continue to bat him either first or third for now.

Castro’s double-play partner, second baseman Darwin Barney, is in the opposite mode, having hit .308 (8-for-26) on the road trip and earning National League rookie of the month honors for April. He was 1-for-5 on Friday with a stolen base and a run scored in the Cubs’ 5-4 loss. He’s hitting .318 overall.

‘‘I’m not as surprised as people think,’’ Quade said of Barney’s offensive production. ‘‘He’s probably off to a better start offensively than I thought, but not defensively. The way he meshes with the shortstop [Castro], those things don’t surprise me. I think they’re important to each other, and I think they’ll get better as time goes on.’’

Dusty memory

Reds manager Dusty Baker’s time with the Cubs was a period in which Quade was managing at Class AAA Iowa, but Quade remembers their relationship and a special gesture from Baker in 2003.

‘‘I came up for my one month in September [when minor-league coaches often join the team], and we clinched [the division], and it was great, and it was time for me to go home,’’ Quade said. ‘‘He said, ‘No, you’re going with us to the playoffs.’ I was almost embarrassed. What a good man, and he’s obviously been a good manager for a long time.’’

Pitch counts

Left-hander Doug Davis will move to Class AAA Iowa for a start Wednesday after working 62/3 scoreless innings for Class A Daytona on Thursday. That will rule him out of the Cubs’ game against the San Francisco Giants next Saturday, when the Cubs next will need a fifth starter.

Quade and general manager Jim Hendry haven’t discussed options for that game yet.

Meanwhile, starters Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner, on the disabled list with forearm and shoulder injuries, respectively, threw on the side Friday. They next will throw live batting-practice sessions at the team’s Mesa, Ariz., facilities.

Back to Boston

The Cubs go to Fenway Park on May 20, and with them will be former Cubs and Red Sox star Bill Buckner. He will fill in on that day’s Ch.  9 telecast for Bob Brenly, who will be away for the weekend to watch his son, Michael, play for Class  A Daytona.

Buckner was one of the most popular Cubs during his tenure from 1977 to 1984, but his three succeeding seasons in Boston were overshadowed by his 10th-inning error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium, allowing the Mets a comeback victory en route to a series-clinching Game 7.



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