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Cubs’ Starlin Castro could wind up starting in All-Star Game

StarlCastro could become first Cubs shortstop start an All-Star Game since DKessinger 1972.  |  David Banks~Getty Images

Starlin Castro could become the first Cubs shortstop to start an All-Star Game since Don Kessinger in 1972. | David Banks~Getty Images

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Updated: October 25, 2011 12:29AM

WASHINGTON — Even amid the rubble of the season, the stakes and stature keep rising for at least one Cub.

Already named the team’s lone All-Star player, shortstop Starlin Castro could be in line to start the midsummer classic Tuesday night because of injuries to elected National League starter Jose Reyes and the only other shortstop on the original roster, the Colorado Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki.

‘‘I heard,’’ Castro said. ‘‘I’m excited for [the possibility]. I don’t want anybody to be hurt, but if [they’re] hurt, I’ll take care of the ball. . . . I’ll be there.’’

NL manager Bruce Bochy wouldn’t comment on contingency plans when asked before his San Francisco Giants played the San Diego Padres on Thursday night.

But indications are Castro would win the nod over an injury-fill-in shortstop.

Castro would be the first Cubs shortstop to start an All-Star Game since Don Kessinger in 1972. It has been three years since the Cubs had a player anywhere in the starting lineup, with catcher Geovany Soto and outfielder Kosuke Fukudome starting.

Reyes, of the New York Mets, was put on the disabled list for a hamstring injury after being sidelined since Saturday. Tulowitzki has missed the last four days with a quadriceps injury and was day-to-day heading into the Rockies’ weekend series at Washington.

Castro, the youngest Cubs All-Star at 21, was hitting .307 entering play Thursday, ranked third in the league in hits (111) and triples (eight) and was tied for seventh in doubles (22).

Back stories

Starting pitchers Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster, both sidelined since their last starts with back soreness, had encouraging side sessions the last two days and are on track for their target return dates.

Zambrano, who threw a strong bullpen session Wednesday at Wrigley Field, is scheduled to make a rehab start tonight at Class A Peoria. Barring a setback, he would follow that with two side sessions in the next week and return from the DL to start on his first eligible day, July 18 at home.

Veteran Ramon Ortiz, who took Zambrano’s place in the rotation Tuesday in his Cubs debut, is scheduled to start the final game before the All-Star break, Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Dempster, who has avoided the DL, said he felt good Thursday during and after throwing his first side session since a stomach ailment last week turned into hip and back pain.

If the back responds well overnight, he’ll be scheduled to start Saturday in Pittsburgh, after missing only one scheduled start.


The Cubs expect a report today on the severity of reliever Marcos Mateo’s elbow injury. The team orthopedist hasn’t been available to review Tuesday’s MRI exam results until now.

† Infielder Jeff Baker, who was forced from Tuesday’s game because of back soreness, returned to action Thursday night, coming off the bench in the fifth to deliver a pinch single before getting thrown out at second trying to stretch it.

† Washington Nationals catcher Pudge Rodriguez was a late scratch because of a mild oblique strain.

Matt Garza’s outing Thursday (he pitched to eight batters in the third without getting an out) was his shortest start since June 18 of last year with the Tampa Bay Rays when he lasted only 11/3 innings (giving up seven runs) against the Florida Marlins.

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