Despite another lapse, Starlin Castro staying at shortstop
By Gordon Wittenmyer firstname.lastname@example.org June 26, 2011 10:48PM
Kansas City Royals' Jeff Francoeur (21) is tagged out by Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro (13) as he tries to steal second in the eighth inning during a baseball game, Sunday, June 26, 2011, in Kansas City, Mo. The Royals won 6-3. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Updated: June 28, 2011 1:54PM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — He had another bobble and another lapse Sunday against the Kansas City Royals, and he already leads the majors with 16 errors.
Get ready for another round of hand wringing over whether Starlin Castro belongs at shortstop and chatter about how soon he should be moved to second or third.
‘‘That’s bull----,’’ said Jim Fregosi, who should know as a former teenage shortstop in the big leagues, a six-time All-Star and a longtime big-league manager.
‘‘Young shortstops are going to make a lot of errors because they have more range, they get to more balls, they try to make more outs, they make stupid throws. They do a lot of things. Hell, I’ve done all that [stuff].’’
Fregosi, now a top scout and adviser for the Atlanta Braves, made 53 errors in 1961 in Class AAA before breaking into the majors that September. During his All-Star season in 1966 with the Los Angeles Angels, he made 35. He won a Gold Glove at the position in ’67.
‘‘He might outgrow the position because he’s young. I’m not saying that’s not going to happen,’’ said Fregosi, who moved to the corner infield spots later in his career. ‘‘But he’s got a lot of talent, and you learn more about how to play as you gain experience.’’
On Sunday, Castro experienced the wrath of manager Mike Quade, who gave him an earful after Castro deflected a grounder in the first inning with a diving play but then watched center fielder Reed Johnson chase down the ball as both baserunners moved up a bag.
‘‘It won’t happen again. It better not happen again,’’ Quade said. ‘‘He gets frustrated. He wants to make the play, doesn’t make the play and just has a letdown. I’m sorry he didn’t make the play. It would have been a great play. But stay involved. That bothered me.’’
The lapse was the low point in a four-run first inning on a day the Cubs otherwise were sharp in the field.
If anything, Castro has looked sharper in the field in the last week or so. Plays like the one he made Saturday to rob Billy Butler of a hit (he ranged to center field, spun and made the throw) make the Cubs believe they have not only one of the best young hitters in the game, but also one of the best young shortstops. Other scouts who have followed the Cubs sound a lot like Fregosi when talking about Castro.
‘‘He just needs to cut back on some of the errors on the routine plays, which certainly don’t come from lack of ability to play the position,’’ Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. ‘‘He makes 30, 35 plays a year that we probably haven’t had made before.
‘‘When people say he has to move off of short, they’re just looking at the error column and thinking that he’s not capable of doing it. Over time, he’ll learn to cut back 10, 12, 15 errors a year just by experience.’’
Castro, who might be the Cubs’ All-Star representative next month in Arizona, extended his personal-high hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the first. He ranks third in the National League with a .326 batting average.
NOTES: Carlos Zambrano, who’s batting .313 with a home run this season, might be the happiest Cub to see the team finish its interleague road schedule. He started in each of the Cubs’ three series in American League parks, where the DH rule took the bat out of his hands. ‘‘I don’t think the American League’s for me,’’ he said. ‘‘I like to hit.’’
◆ Manager Mike Quade said he plans to start Doug Davis and Rodrigo Lopez in the doubleheader Tuesday against the San Francisco Giants. That plan nearly hit a snag Sunday when Lopez began warming up in the bullpen with Randy Wells on the ropes in the first inning.