10/03/12 6:55 PM ET
Wind not friendly to hitters at Wrigley this year
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
"You put Castro in Miller Park or Cincinnati where the conditions are different, and he'd have had 20 home runs this year," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Wednesday.
But that doesn't mean you create a different team just for Wrigley Field's crazy elements.
"The time you build for the weather conditions will be the time that season the wind blows out," Sveum said. "You build a team to have good, consistent baseball players and people who know how to play the game and they'll give you good at-bats and get on base. Pitchers, I don't care what park you're in, you have to keep the ball down and throw strikes.
"It's the same formula everywhere," Sveum said. "If you try to build around the ballpark, you'll get in trouble."
The weather does make a difference. When the wind blows in, teams are averaging 7.9 combined runs per game, and when it blows out, they average 11.4 runs per game.
Castro becomes first Cub to play all 162 games at short
CHICAGO -- On Thursday, Starlin Castro can rest. On Wednesday, he became the first player in franchise history to play at shortstop in all 162 games in a season.
Castro surpassed the single-season franchise mark of 160 set by Ivan DeJesus in 1978 and '79. Wednesday also was Castro's 161st start at short, and he is the first to total that many. DeJesus ('78) and Don Kessinger ('68) both held the previous mark of 158 starts.
Castro also is the first Cubs infielder to appear in all 162 games in a season since Hall of Famer Ron Santo did so in 1968.
Only three players in the big leagues have played 162 games at shortstop during the last 10 seasons: Baltimore's Miguel Tejada ('03 and '04), Montreal's Orlando Cabrera ('03) and Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins ('07).
Castro has appeared in 195 consecutive games, which, according to Elias Sports Bureau, is the longest active streak in the National League and the second-longest active run in all of baseball, behind only Detroit's Prince Fielder.
What's impressed Cubs manager Dale Sveum beyond Castro's durability is that there's been no change since he signed his seven-year, $60 million contract in late August.
"The best thing about signing a contract is I haven't seen him go backward," Sveum said. "I've seen a guy who cares still. He's had good at-bats with men in scoring position. That's the biggest thing since he signed that contract. I've seen him go forward instead of backward."
Third-base coach Listach dismissed; Rowson in limbo
CHICAGO -- The Cubs dismissed third base coach Pat Listach after Wednesday's game, and were still evaluating interim hitting coach James Rowson's status. The rest of manager Dale Sveum's coaching staff will return in 2013.
Listach, 45, was in his second season in his second stint with the Cubs. He was a coach or manager in the team's Minor League system from 2000-08 before serving as the Nationals' third-base coach from 2009-10.
Listach was the Cubs' infield coach, and worked with second baseman Darwin Barney, who compiled a 141-game errorless streak.
"This is hard for me," Barney said after getting the news. "He was one of the first people who really saw what I had and believed in it and voiced his opinion for me a couple years back. It's tough. He's going to be fine, he's got a place in baseball and he'll find work somewhere for sure. It's hard to see him go. We spent a lot of time together preparing for these games and putting together the season I had defensively.
"Whenever I try to give him credit, he tells me, 'It wasn't me, it was all you. Don't think I did anything,'" Barney said. "The reality is, he did [help]. He turned me on to a lot of different ideas and different things. It's just sad, it's sad to see him go."
Rowson was promoted from Minor League hitting coordinator to replace veteran hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo in May. The Cubs batted .240 this season, ahead of only the Astros in the National League.
Rebuilding efforts could determine Soriano's future
CHICAGO -- When Alfonso Soriano signed his eight-year contract with the Cubs in November 2006, it was with the intent of getting to the World Series. Soriano did make the playoffs twice with the Cubs, but they are now in rebuilding mode. He has two years left on his deal.
How long can Soriano wait?
"It depends on how long," he said prior to Wednesday's season finale. "If they want to rebuild next year, I'll be here. If they want to take longer than two years, I have to think about moving to another team that can win quickly. I have two more years on the contract, and maybe I'll retire after that. I want to have one more shot to get to the World Series before I retire."
"I just say that -- the way I feel now, I wish it could be my No. 8 year on my contract, so I could retire today," said Soriano, weary from the season. "There's two more years left."
So he's not going to play when he's 40?
"I don't think so," he said. "I think two more years -- it depends on how I feel. If I feel like I feel now in two years, I'll want to retire right away."
Soriano did not start on Wednesday. Cubs manager Dale Sveum asked the veteran if he wanted to play, and Soriano said that was enough.
"Personally, I feel proud of myself," Soriano said of his season, in which he hit 32 home runs and drove in a career-high 108 runs. "At 36, what I can do, even with a bad knee, I just worked hard to do what I could do because I love this game and never like being down. I'm working hard to make this team better. If I'm healthy, I know I'll put up numbers, but more important, I can help this team win."
He will not have surgery on his troublesome left knee, but spend the offseason strengthening it. He's quieted his critics.
"People always see me with the wrong eyes," Soriano said. "I think the manager and [Theo Epstein] and all those guys, they appreciate what I do. They gave me an opportunity to bat cleanup and I did the best I could to make the team better."
Sveum wants Soriano back.
"No question about it," Sveum said. "To have 32 home runs and 108 RBIs, and to play left field like he has with his speed and the legs he has, he's done a great job in the outfield. Everything he does in that clubhouse, his work ethic is unmatched in my career. I haven't seen too many people in my career go about their business on an everyday basis like 'Sori' does. To produce, for a manager, is even better."
• In 1999, Franklin Font was playing in Venezuela in Winter Ball, and was the starting shortstop on his team. That was until a teenager arrived one day, and Font was bumped from the lineup. That teen was Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, who is on the verge of becoming the first player in 45 years to win baseball's Triple Crown.
"He was unbelievable then," said Font, who is just wrapping up his 18th season in the Cubs organization, this year serving as an assistant on manager Dale Sveum's staff.
Font and Cabrera were able to catch up when the Tigers played the Cubs in Wrigley Field in Interleague games in June.
There's a story that Cabrera lived so close to a stadium in Venezuela that he could jump from his window into the ballpark. He would watch the older players and learn from them.
"He could always hit," Font said of Cabrera, a fellow Venezuela native. "He enjoyed the game."
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.