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Ozzie Guillen on Starlin Castro: An amazing player

Updated: June 22, 2011 7:23PM



If it looks like Starlin Castro has picked up his already formidable game for the Cubs-White Sox series, well, that’s what he was trying to do.

‘‘A lot of people I know in the city talk to me and say, ‘Let’s go, White Sox, win,’ ’’ the shortstop said. ‘‘I say, ‘Man, I’m with the Cubs. . . . Against the White Sox, when I play these guys, I want to win these games.’’

That the kid — already hitting above .300 and installed at the top of the order — could raise his play because of the bigger stakes might be the most impressive thing about the sophomore sensation. And he’s still just 21 years old with only 196 games in the big leagues.

‘‘He’s amazing,’’ Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. ‘‘Amazing player, a very good player. You don’t see any kid that young with that much comfort at the plate.’’

Castro started the Cubs’ offense Monday with a two-run single, then added a game-tying homer leading off the sixth as the Cubs came back to beat the Sox. After the game, Guillen stopped Castro outside the clubhouse.

‘‘He said, ‘Great game,’ ’’ Castro said, ‘‘and, ‘Stay the same.’ ’’

Whether Castro even knew that Guillen was once an All-Star shortstop himself, the moment meant a lot to him.

‘‘It felt good because it’s not my manager,’’ Castro said, ‘‘and he likes how I play.’’

Not that Castro is an All-Star yet. But it might be only a matter of weeks, if his recent pace means anything — he’s on a 12-for-24 roll after going 2-for-4 on Tuesday.

It’s one of his goals, said Castro, who’s anything but shy about his place at this level.

‘‘I’m trying my best. I want to make the game,’’ he said. ‘‘My father would be very happy for me.’’

Castro will have to do it on the players’ ballot or by manager/commissioner decision. Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki and New York’s Jose Reyes are leading the fans’ voting.

‘‘Those guys are pretty good, so if he’s in the conversation with them, it’s a hell of a start,’’ Cubs manager Mike Quade said. ‘‘I’ve been around a lot of good young players that haven’t had this ability this early in their career. And he keeps an even keel about him; I think that’s important, too.’’

So’s the work he’s putting in defensively — which showed up with a charging barehanded scoop and cross-body throw in Tuesday’s first inning to get Omar Vizquel, who might own the patent for barehanded plays at short.

It’s still a work in progress in the field for Castro. But the bat is undeniable. His 96 hits rank second in the National League not yet halfway through the season.

‘‘My goal is 200 hits this year,’’ said Castro, who would become one of the youngest players in history to accomplish that. ‘‘Like 40 hits every month. April was pretty good. June, right now, is better.’’

NOTES: Injured fifth starter Andrew Cashner (shoulder) is scheduled to return from rehab in Arizona to Chicago on Monday to be re-evaluated by team doctors to determine whether he can restart a throwing program. The Cubs are doubling the process this time around after Cashner suffered a setback last month as he was about to begin a minor-league rehab stint.

Carlos Pena’s fifth-inning home run gave him four homers in his last six games — and 13 since a homerless April.



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