Cubs’ Starlin Castro has eyes on Gold Glove
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org July 2, 2011 10:44PM
Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro makes a diving catch on a ground ball hit by Chicago White Sox's Brent Morel, and proceeded to throw him out at first during the third inning of a baseball game, Friday, July 1, 2011, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Updated: October 29, 2011 12:34AM
Cubs fans looking for something worth watching, if not cheering, for at least the next two weeks should tune in today to find out if Starlin Castro will become the Cubs’ first All-Star shortstop since Shawon Dunston in 1990.
In other words, since the year Castro was born.
‘‘I’m nervous,’’ Castro said. ‘‘I want to be there.’’
But whether he makes it or not, something impressive has happened over the last few weeks with the Cubs’ best young hitter: He has started to look like their best young fielder, perhaps good enough to win a Gold Glove one day.
‘‘It’s definitely there,’’ said second baseman Darwin Barney, who has noticed the growth after returning to the lineup earlier in the week.
Yes, Castro leads all major-league shortstops with 16 errors. Only a week ago, he caught the wrath of manager Mike Quade for a lapse that gave two runners an extra base.And he still has critics who think the Cubs should view him as a long-term second baseman or third baseman.
But White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen might have summed up the growing sentiment when he said, simply: ‘‘Castro, wow.’’
This was after the game Friday, when Castro made one of his top three or four plays of the season, diving toward the hole to glove Brent Morel’s shot, then leaping quickly to his feet to make a long throw that beat Morel by an eyelash.
The hitting has been there since he homered and drove in six runs in his major-league debut last season. And the drive for the All-Star Game has been there since his torrid April this year.
But don’t be surprised if the Gold Glove buzz is right around the corner.
‘‘One of these years,’’ said Castro, whose confidence belies his 21 years of age and eight months of big-league experience. ‘‘Maybe not [this] year, but the year coming, for sure I’ll try to [win it].’’
When and if that day comes, he’ll join Ernie Banks (1960) and Don Kessinger (1969-70) as the only Cubs shortstops to win one.
‘‘I’m jealous because at his age, I wasn’t that mature at being under control,’’ said Dunston, a two-time All-Star who’s a member of the San Francisco Giants’ coaching staff. ‘‘He’s very under control, and the game is slow to him.’’
Castro has been taking extra fielding work with infield coach Ivan DeJesus. He especially has tried to improve on what he admits are ‘‘lazy’’ efforts in anticipating and executing plays.
Part of the formula for improving has been a conscious effort to stay aggressive. Rather than back off some of the more difficult throws that have led to many of his errors, he has worked on focus and form to make better throws.
Does anyone think Derek Jeter looked good the first 10 or 50 times he tried what has become his trademark leap-and-throw-from-the-hole move?
‘‘It just comes from confidence,’’ Barney said. ‘‘When you don’t have that and you make a throwing error, it’s hard to make that next throw. And I think he got over that hump.’’
But the hardest thing Castro has had to learn, he said, is not taking a bad at-bat into the field.
‘‘It’s real hard because you make an out sometimes, like you strike out, and you think too much,’’ he said. ‘‘Right now, I separate it. It’s different work, defense and hitting.’’
Dunston said he’s most impressed with Castro’s hitting, but he sees the premier upside in his fielding, too.
‘‘Right now, I see him winning a batting title before a Gold Glove,’’ Dunston said. ‘‘Maybe the Gold Glove in four or five years. Maybe the batting title this year. This year.’’