CHICAGO -- Hall of Famer Ernie Banks was asked how good Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is on the day the 21-year-old was named to his first All-Star Game.
"He's better than me," Banks said.
Castro, who has ranked among the National League leaders in hits and multihit games, was the Cubs' lone selection to the All-Star Game, announced Sunday.The 82nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be played on July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix. It will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans, having already decided the starters, this week will have the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and continues until 3 p.m. CT on Thursday, July 7. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Msg&Data Rates May Apply. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555. Std rates may apply.On July 12, fans once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game. Castro, 21, who will be making his first All-Star appearance, is the first Cubs shortstop to get the honor since Shawon Dunston in 1990. He's also the youngest Cubs player selected; Greg Maddux was 22 when he was named to the All-Star team in 1988 but didn't play.
"It feels pretty good," Castro said. "I feel real excited, and my family is very happy, too."
The announcement was made on the MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell. The All-Star Game will be played July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix. Last year, Marlon Byrd was the Cubs' only All-Star representative.
Entering play Sunday, Castro, who was batting .309, was second in the National League in hits with 108 and multihit games with 32. He kicked off the season with a .348 April and has gotten the attention of more than Cubs fans.
"That kid shortstop is amazing," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "An amazing player, a very good player. You don't see any kid that young with that much comfort at the plate. This kid has a great chance to be a great player."
Castro has batted first, second and third for the Cubs, taking over the No. 3 spot.
"To be perfectly honest, he's a kid who loves to play and he doesn't concern himself with first, second, third or seventh [in the order]," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "He hasn't changed a thing, no matter where we've put him."
This season, Castro posted a career-high 11 game hitting streak and batted .455 during that stretch.
"I think he can still get a lot better, which is really scary," Quade said. "I don't know how he can be discpline-wise, but I believe he can be better. When you see a kid who puts the ball in play with authority that's in the strike zone, you think, boy, the more strikes he can get [the more hits he'll get], because they get him out when he goes out of the strike zone."
Castro did make 27 errors last season and has committed 16 this year, including three in one game. They are usually aggressive errors, and youthful mistakes.
"He's got the talent and he's got the tools," Cubs infield coach Ivan DeJesus said of Castro. "Day in and day out, he's coming in with a new attitude. He wants to play that day and do the best he can, just improve every single day. There's more to come to be the finest that he can be."
Castro does show his frustration when he makes a mistake but has learned that every day is a new day.
"He really is an even-keeled type of kid," Quade said. "To be that, with what he's accomplished and what he may yet accomplish, is part of why he's good and part of an impressive young man. ... He doesn't let things bother him too much and I think that's also why he's able to be successful in clutch situtions as well."
The Cubs have kept Castro in the No. 3 spot in the lineup, although his average there has dipped compared to when he bats first or second.
"The three-hole is supposed to be your best hitter and he does a pretty good job of that," Quade said. "He's still working on his patience. We think he'll hit power. You look at the talent and I think you'll see him in the three-hole down the road."
What does he need to do to get better? Experience, Quade said.
"In the beginning, I tried to be [an All-Star]," Castro said. "I knew it would be hard for me. And then it happened."
His father and two brothers were at Wrigley Field on Sunday to celebrate the news. Does Castro envision being an automatic All-Star every year?
"Yeah, for sure," he said with a big smile.
"He's going to line up and play here and hit one, two or three probably for [a long time]," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "He just turned 21 before Opening Day, so let's let him have a great career, let's keep putting better players around him, and hopefully, he'll be one of those guys that spends his whole life here as a phenomenal player for the Cubs."
Castro made a splash in his Major League debut, hitting a three-run homer in his first at-bat May 7, 2010, in Cincinnati and finishing that game with six RBIs. Last year, he finished 10th among National League qualifiers with a .300 batting average. He was the first Cubs rookie to bat at least .300 and finish in the NL top 10 since Bill Madlock in 1974.
"To come up here and hit from Day 1 like he has ... it's very impressive," Quade said.
Castro won't be the only one in a Cubs uniform for the All-Star Game as Quade was named to the National League coaching staff by Giants manager Bruce Bochy.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.