Results tagged ‘ Starlin Castro ’
Congrats to Starlin Castro and Bryan LaHair, who were both selected to the National League All-Star team yesterday.
The 22-year-old Castro earned his second All-Star honor in as many seasons, becoming the first Cubs shortstop to be named to the All-Star team in consecutive seasons since Don Kessinger’s five-year run from 1968-72. LaHair, 29, is the first Cub to be elected as a first baseman since Derrek Lee in 2007 and only the third Cubs first baseman to make the team in the last 30 years (Mark Grace).
Vine Line profiled LaHair in the July All-Star issue, on sale now. Here are a few choice quotes about his struggles in the minor leagues and the early All-Star speculation. The read the full interview, subscribe to Vine Line or pick up a copy at Chicago-area newsstands.
STAR STRUCK I’m humbled by the talk. I’ve got to stay in the moment and prepare for today’s game. I never like to get too far ahead of myself. There are a lot of good players in this league and a lot of guys with time served. It would be great to go to the All-Star Game, but it’s just so hard for me. I’m in such a young part of my major league career, so I can’t say I deserve to be there. I’d be lying if I stood here and said I wouldn’t want something like that. It’s a great honor. It’s reaching the top. I think the whole state of Massachusetts is voting for me, or at least it seems that way.
FAMILY MATTERS They kept pushing me every day—my mom and dad, and my wife [Nicole] especially. My wife has been with me since I first started. We met in ’04, which was one year into [pro ball]. She’s experienced the downs and the highs and the hard work and the success with no results coming from it. My family just kept pushing, telling me to work hard and keep the faith, and assuring me that good things would happen eventually. And they were right.
The Cubs got the season’s second crosstown series off to a lopsided start, hammering 15 hits and tallying 12 runs, in a 12-3 victory. Yesterday we broke down the pitching matchups for the Cubs’ series with the South Side Sox. Today we examine the infielders.
Geovany Soto (.173/.257/.337, 4 HR, 21% CS) vs. A.J. Pierzynski (.286/.329/.512, 12 HR, 29% CS)
Geovany Soto is off the DL and looks to have retained his regular catching duties, despite a .173 batting average. Backup catcher Steve Clevenger (.284/.303/.392, 8 doubles, 76 PA), who played first base yesterday, looked good in Soto’s absence. Soto, a former NL All-Star and Rookie of the Year, will need to bolster his stats a bit to keep his everyday job.
A.J. Pierzynski continues to up his game, even at 35 years old. His .286 average is second-highest among AL catchers, and he leads that group in slugging percentage. He should get serious All-Star consideration.
Bryan LaHair (.299/.380/.572, 13 HR, 28 RBI) vs. Paul Konerko (.359/.434/.600, 13 HR, 38 RBI)
Despite not being in the lineup against lefties, Bryan LaHair’s numbers are some of the best among National League first basemen. So far this season, he has been one of the better feel-good stories in baseball. With the Cubs facing three righties this series, expect to see the 29-year-old slugger’s name penciled into the lineup all three games—even if it’s in the outfield, where he started the first game of the series. That could be a signal the team is readying for first base uber-prospect Anthony Rizzo.
But as good as LaHair has been, Paul Konerko has turned himself into a legitimate MVP candidate—an impressive feat for a 36-year-old many believed was past his prime. His .359 batting average is more than 40 points above his career high.
Darwin Barney (.272/.319/.392, 3 HR, 22 RBI) vs. Gordon Beckham (.236/.286/.372, 8 HR, 27 RBI)
Darwin Barney has been a big contributor for the Cubs all season long. While Manager Dale Sveum has platooned much of the starting lineup, Barney has been one of the few steady regulars, regardless of the matchup. His .272 average and .319 OBP are third-best among Cubs regulars, and he has come through in the clutch on several occasions.
Former first-round draft pick Gordon Beckham continues to struggle at the plate after a promising rookie season in ’08. The Sox were hoping Beckham could emerge as a top-of-the-order guy when the season started, but his .286 on-base percentage has kept him at the bottom of the high-powered lineup. However, he did hit the go-ahead home run in the first game at Wrigley earlier this year.
Starlin Castro (.303/.317/.448, 6 HR, 38 RBI, 16 SB) vs. Alexei Ramirez (.230/.255/.282, 1 HR, 29 RBI, 9 SB)
Starlin Castro is putting together another solid campaign and will likely represent the Cubs in July’s All-Star Game. While he’s walked just six times in 285 plate appearances, he’s still hovering around a .300 batting average. And, despite a few mental gaffes, his defense is improving. His UZR ranks him as one of the NL’s elite defensive shortstops. He’s also running more this season. His 16 stolen bases are already closing in on his career-high total (22) from last year.
Alexei Ramirez has been ice cold for the Sox all season, which may be a bigger surprise than Konerko’s torrid start. Last year, the 30-year-old Ramirez finished with a 4.9 WAR (wins above replacement), good for 17th in the AL. This year, he sits a -0.6, third-worst in the league.
Luis Valbuena (.294/.333/.647, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 12 AB) vs. Orlando Hudson (.176/.265/.297, 2 HR, 10 RBI)
The hot corner features a pair of newcomers to their respective teams. Luis Valbuena was signed by the Cubs a week before the season began and just started earning regular playing time after Ian Stewart went on the DL with wrist problems. Valbuena has produced offensively in the past, hitting .250 with 10 homers in 103 games for the Indians in 2009. In just five games this year, he’s already hit two home runs and driven in seven.
The Sox signed 34-year-old Orlando Hudson in May to take over for the slumping Brent Morel. The four-time Gold Glove winner and career second baseman has been moderately successful with the transition to third, committing three errors in 23 games, but he continues to struggle mightily at the dish.
Tomorrow, we focus on designated hitters and outfielders.
Starlin Castro had a pair of singles Monday, giving the shortstop 400 career hits in just 325 games. Among major leaguers who debuted after 1980, Castro tied Alex Rodriguez as the sixth-fastest player to reach the 400 hit plateau, behind only Ichiro Suzuki (268 games), Nomar Garciaparra (302), Kirby Puckett (310), Hanley Ramirez (317) and Wade Boggs (324). He leads all NL players with 74 multi-hit games since 2011.
Despite having just a .326 on-base percentage this season, the 22-year-old shortstop leads the Cubs in hitting (.316), RBI (25) and is tied for the lead in stolen bases (12). He also has a .333 average with runners in scoring position.
Last Friday, Manager Dale Sveum set his lineup against the Dodgers the same way he plans on setting it Thursday against the Washington Nationals on Opening Day at Wrigley Field.
1. David DeJesus – RF
2. Darwin Barney – 2B
3. Starlin Castro – SS
4. Bryan LaHair – 1B
5. Alfonso Soriano – LF
6. Ian Stewart – 3B
7. Marlon Byrd – CF
8. Geovany Soto – C
9. Ryan Dempster – P
Throughout the spring, there was speculation about the top of the order, mainly over where Castro would bat. Sveum even toyed with Soriano in the leadoff spot, but after a powerful preseason (.316, six homers, five doubles), Soriano landed in the middle of the order. Barney was rewarded for his .392 Cactus League average with the second slot, and, despite a slow first half of spring, LaHair turned it around enough to secure the cleanup spot.
MESA, Ariz.–The Cubs are gearing up for their first live game action of the season this afternoon at HoHoKam Park. After morning workouts, the club will play an intrasquad game–blue team versus white–essentially pitting the major league squad against the minor leaguers. The game starts at 1 p.m. and is open to the public.
Here are today’s intrasquad lineups:
1. Soriano – LF
2. Stewart – 3B
3. Castro – SS
4. LaHair – 1B
5. Byrd – CF
6. DeJesus – RF
7. Lalli – C
8. Barney – 2B
9. DeWitt – DH
T. Wood – P
1. Jackson – CF
2. Sczcur – RF
3. Baker – 2B
4. Rizzo – 1B
5. Johnson – L
6. Vitters – 3B
7. Lake – SS
8. Brenly – C
9. Campana – DH
Wells – P
MESA, Ariz.–New Cubs pitcher Paul Maholm threw a side session on Monday but was sent home afterward, as he is still recovering from the flu. Although Maholm was slated to compete against Rodrigo Lopez in the Cubs bunting competition this afternoon, their matchup was postponed by manager Dale Sveum.
“I think he got a little sick–a little lightheaded–and is still a little dehydrated from being sick,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
Shortstop Starlin Castro showed no ill effects after being hit in the forearm by a fastball from pitcher Kerry Wood during live batting practice on Monday. Castro, who was immediately examined by assistant trainer Ed Halbur, stepped back in against Wood later in the round and participated in all other drills throughout the day.
“He’s fine,” Sveum said. “I wasn’t there to witness it. It sounded a little more scary, but he’s fine. He stepped right in and did all his drills after that. It was almost like he didn’t get hit.”
Photo by David Durochik.
Starlin Castro wrapped up a great sophomore season at the plate with his 207th hit yesterday, finishing the season with 207 knocks and a .307 AVG/.341 OBP/.432 SLG triple-slash line. Look out for an illustration by Jerry Neumann commemorating the achievement in the November issue of Vine Line.
Your final National League hits leaderboard for 2011:
The following guest post was submitted by Ryan Maloney, from the Cubs MLBlog Prose and Ivy. (Photos by Stephen Green)
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK: If Ryan Dempster joins Starlin Castro in reaching a personal “200″ milestone this week, which accomplishment are you more impressed by: Dempster’s four straight seasons of 200+ innings, or Castro hitting the 200-hit mark at a younger age than any player in the history of the franchise?
Starlin Castro reached his statistical mountain top on Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals when he became the Cubs’ youngest player ever to reach 200 hits in a season. Ryan Dempster is chasing the 200-inning mark for the fourth straight season, needing just 3.1 innings pitched in his last remaining start, at San Diego.
So let’s consider what each achievement says about the two players. (more…)
Already having proved his bat can be a cornerstone of the Cubs lineup for years to come, shortstop Starlin Castro works on his defense during the last homestand. (Photo by Stephen Green)