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Cubs’ Mike Quade calls out Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney on play

StarlCastro Cubs grabs his bafter striking out eighth inning Wrigley Field Wednesday July 20 2011 Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

Starlin Castro of the Cubs grabs his bat after striking out in the eighth inning at Wrigley Field Wednesday, July 20, 2011, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: October 27, 2011 12:32AM

After a bad baseball team got trounced by the best team in the majors Wednesday afternoon, Cubs manager Mike Quade took close to a half-hour before getting to his postgame media briefing.

Then he inexplicably called out the best two young players on the team for a play in the first inning.

After a 9-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on a day in which Wrigley Field temperatures flirted with 100, Quade turned up the heat on shortstop Starlin Castro and second baseman Darwin Barney after Castro dropped a one-out pop-up that started a two-run rally and drove up starter Ryan Dempster’s pitch count.

‘‘I look back at this whole game and look at that play,’’ a clearly irate Quade said. ‘‘The sun’s been in the same damn spot for however long Wrigley Field’s been here. And those are the kind of mistakes — there are certain ones you’ll accept, and there are other ones that have to be taken care of.’’

Quade, who talked to Castro and Barney after the game, called it a tone-setter and referred to ‘‘indecision’’ on the play.

But even Quade couldn’t identify a specific lapse and seemed more intent on turning the loss into a ‘‘teaching moment’’ for two middle infielders the Cubs are counting on to be a major part of their rebuilding process.

‘‘The sad part is, as mad as I was, there was communication,’’ Quade said. ‘‘They talked. Cassie decided he had it, so Barney backed off, as he definitely should have done. But the bottom line is, we’ve got to catch that ball, and if there’s any question in Cassie’s mind, then he’s got to let Barney take it, period.’’

Castro left the clubhouse by the time most of the media got there after the game. Barney echoed the manager’s sentiments, as well as Quade’s emphasis on the importance of the middle infielders being especially sharp and alert on every play.

‘‘I’ll take responsibility,’’ Barney said.

But what more could he have done? ‘‘I don’t want to talk about it.’’

Probably because he didn’t do anything wrong.

Quade seemed to be driving the point that Castro and Barney are now linked as a set, have to think like that and have to understand how much their positions affect ­every other area of the game.

‘‘Everything goes through them. I mean, everything,’’ Quade said. ‘‘Relays, double plays. . . . If we’re going to be good pitching, we’ve got to play well in the middle. . . . We’ve got to put the negativity behind us, play with some freaking intensity and continue to work on playing the game the way we’re supposed to.’’

Of course, Castro and Barney were hitting better than all but two of the veterans in the lineup, and they field their area as a tandem as well or better than at least four other veteran regulars in the lineup.

‘‘I think our veterans are doing a pretty damn good job,’’ Quade said. ‘‘I see intensity from my center fielder [Marlon Byrd]. I think [Aramis Ramirez] is playing really well. And that doesn’t mean we don’t make some mistakes.

‘‘But I just know the value of the middle of the diamond. We’ve got two talented kids there that need to get better. They’ve got 60-some games to prove that, to show that, the rest of this season and go from there.’’

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