03/03/11 8:21 PM EST
Castro takes game off to work on fielding
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
The 20-year-old got some early extra work in with infield coach Ivan DeJesus, which is part of Cubs manager Mike Quade's plan. Castro will start Friday in Surprise against the Royals and is expected to play three straight games. That doesn't mean his extra tutoring won't stop.
Castro has made two errors in three games, and his first miscue prompted a meeting with Quade on Wednesday. The problem isn't lack of work. The emphasis will be more on practicing as if he's in a game situation.
"I don't believe we can do any more work," Quade said Thursday. "That's the frustrating thing from my end.
"We're working. The question to me becomes how better to work."
DeWitt familiarizing himself with second base
MESA, Ariz. -- Blake DeWitt's Spring Training numbers aren't important. What matters is how the Cubs second baseman feels at the plate and on the field.
DeWitt's focus this spring is on second base, not third, and adjusting his stance to remove a tap mechanism. Let's talk about second base.
"I just like second base because you're involved more," DeWitt said Thursday. "It's a lot of fun over there. There's always something to learn, there's always something new to learn. I pay attention to a lot of guys."
DeWitt, who played second a little in 2006 but did not get regular play there until '08, is looking for tips from sources other than the Cubs coaches.
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"You've got a guy like Augie Ojeda here, who's played a long time in this league and had a lot of success and he's good around the bag, and a guy like him you can go up and ask a question to and learn," DeWitt said.
The angles are different, as well as the responsibilities.
"It's just a matter of getting reps there and getting comfortable when you make that switch," DeWitt said. "It's a lot different, especially when you make the turn at second."
OK, what about hitting? DeWitt and Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo decided at the end of last season to drop the timing mechanism and eliminate the tap he had been using his entire career.
"It's going good," DeWitt said. "I know there's going to be a little adjustment period."
The key thing is for him to be able to take what he's doing in the batting cages into a game. On Thursday, he doubled to lead off for the Cubs against the Rangers. He just has to get more comfortable in games.
"I'm going to take each day and try to improve," he said. "We've got a while. I'll take each at-bat one at a time and be patient with it. It's going to help me."
Pitchers focus on getting their work in, not the stats. That's how DeWitt is looking at the first few weeks of spring.
"You can't make a career off Spring Training," he said. "Spring Training is about getting comfortable and getting ready for the season, and that's what I have to try to do. I can't try to do too much. It's new to me, but it's not new. I've been doing it all offseason. Taking it into the game will be new. I have to be patient."
Looper excited to be back on mound
MESA, Ariz. -- On Thursday, Braden Looper was on the mound for the first time since October 2009 and he admitted to being a little amped up.
"It felt good to be out there in a competitive situation again," said the right-hander, who is trying to come back with the Cubs after a one-year hiatus. "It's been a long time. That first inning, I was a little too pumped up. I went back in the dugout and said, 'Man, I have to slow down.' After that, I felt really good."
He entered in the fourth for the Cubs against the Rangers at HoHoKam Park and gave up back-to-back hits, then a sacrifice fly to Matt Treanor. But Looper got Endy Chavez to ground into an inning-ending double play.
A 12-year veteran, Looper signed a Minor League contract with the Cubs in January. He hasn't asked when he'll start, but is expecting one. He's in the mix for the two openings in the rotation.
"Coming in, when I signed, the consensus was that they would give me the opportunity," Looper said. "When that is, I don't know. Right now, I'm just glad to get out there and compete and go from there. That was step one. Step two was going back out there that second inning and feeling a lot better and hopefully I can carry that on."
In the second inning, Looper retired the side, and ended the fifth by striking out Esteban German.
He lives in the Chicago area, and Looper signed with the Cubs because he didn't want to move his family of four all over the country again. What if another team is interested? He's not looking too far ahead.
"My first thing is, we'll do this and see if it works," Looper said, "and then we'll cross that bridge when it comes."
The Cubs will not use a designated hitter Friday in Surprise, Ariz., vs. the Royals because Matt Garza is pitching and they want him to get some at-bats. This is Garza's first year pitching in the National League. He did get a hit in his first at-bat this spring. ... Tyler Colvin will get his first start at first base Friday. He started in right field Thursday, and was 1-for-2. ... As if anything else could go wrong, the fire alarm went off in the Cubs clubhouse prior to Thursday's game. ... The Cubs have expanded the number of dates for fans to take tours of Wrigley Field from 64 in 2010 to at least 120 dates this year. The tours begin Saturday at 10 a.m. CT. The tour typically includes the Cubs clubhouse, visiting clubhouse, press box, Bud Light Bleachers, dugouts, on-deck circles and a section of the field. Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased at Cubs.com, by calling 800-THE-CUBS or by visiting the Wrigley Field box office. Groups of 20 or more may purchase tickets at a discounted rate.
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.