8/18/2013 6:52 P.M. ET
Emphasis on development, Castro returns to lineup
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Starlin Castro was back in the Cubs' starting lineup Sunday, because manager Dale Sveum felt the shortstop had been punished enough when he was pulled from Saturday's game for a mental gaffe that resulted in a run.
"The way I look at it is, obviously, he had enough punishment -- if that's the right word or not -- but I think to be embarrassed on national TV and what's been written in the paper today, I think that's plenty," Sveum said Sunday. "I don't think this kid can get better by not playing today and understanding the adversity we all go through in the game."
The Cardinals had the bases loaded with one out in the fifth inning Saturday, when Castro caught a popup by Matt Carpenter in shallow left and then put his head down, which was all Jon Jay needed to sprint home from third and score on the sacrifice fly. That run opened a 2-0 lead, and the Cardinals eventually won, 4-0. Sveum benched Castro after that inning for the blunder.
Ironically, Saturday's game marked a career-high 25 straight games at shortstop without an error for Castro. His previous career mark of 24 straight errorless games at shortstop was July 14-Aug. 9, 2011.
"I don't think you get better by sitting around and not doing anything," said Sveum, who met one-on-one with Castro both Saturday and Sunday. "He knows. He was obviously very remorseful and knows what happened. He's a guy who's got to perform for us and be a championship player when we get to that stage in the organization."
This has been a season Castro would like to forget offensively. A two-time All-Star, he began this season with a career .297 average, but entered Sunday hitting .244 and riding an 0-for-16 skid.
"He's got natural hand-eye coordination," Sveum said. "There are a lot of mechanical things that are going on that aren't going to allow you to square a baseball up on a consistent basis. I think he knows that and he's in a fist fight right now to figure it out.
"Like I told him the last couple days, there comes a time when you have to make that adjustment. That light switch just doesn't switch on and you aren't going to square four balls up the next day without making adjustments."
Sveum and his coaching staff have worked with Castro to try to get him back on track at the plate. He seemed to have found his stroke in July, batting .292, but was 11-for-53 (.208) in 15 games this month.
What does Sveum do now?
"You keep playing," Sveum said. "There's no experience better than just playing and learning from your mistakes. There's nothing else you can do. This guy is a good player we have to have play well when we're ready to win a championship. He's got to be there. He's here under contract, and we know it's all there and we have to get it out of him.
"The bottom line is, you have to do it yourself as a player. You're turning into a young man who's been here four years, and there comes a time when we all, as players and men, have to do things ourselves."
One thing Sveum emphasized was that Castro was a good, smart kid.
"He's a great human being and a great kid and tries to do the best he can," Sveum said. "We've got to get that out of him somehow."
Sveum, Russell tossed after check-swing call in seventh
CHICAGO -- All the Cubs wanted was for Phil Cuzzi to ask for some help regarding a check-swing call he made against Donnie Murphy in the seventh Sunday, but the home-plate umpire refused. That led to an animated discussion and two ejections: Cubs manager Dale Sveum and pitcher James Russell.
With two on, none out and the Cubs trailing, 6-1, against the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright, Murphy was called out after he thought he checked his swing. Murphy asked Cuzzi to confirm with first-base umpire Chris Guccione, but Cuzzi refused.
"I said, 'I thought I flinched,' and he told me I swung," Murphy said. "I was so baffled. I couldn't believe he called it. I didn't know what to say."
Murphy checked the replay after the Cubs' 6-1 loss.
"It showed I didn't swing," he said. "What are you going to do?"
Sveum argued the call from the dugout and was tossed, then continued his discussion on the field with Cuzzi.
"It wasn't very questionable," Sveum said. "That's easily the worst check-swing call I've ever seen. That's why the other umpires are there, to give him help."
Why didn't Cuzzi ask the other umpires?
"[Cuzzi] said he thought he got it right," Sveum said.
While Sveum was arguing on the field, Russell said something from the dugout that prompted third-base umpire Tom Hallion to eject him, as well.
"I obviously was busy," Sveum said. "I didn't see what happened."
It's the fifth time this season Sveum has been ejected.
DeJesus helps pick up Castro after mental gaffe
CHICAGO -- After Cubs manager Dale Sveum told Starlin Castro he was coming out of Saturday's game because of his defensive gaffe, David DeJesus was right there, encouraging the shortstop to return to the dugout rather than hide in the clubhouse.
"He made a mistake, but he's still part of the team," DeJesus said Sunday. "Just having him there shows a lot. Yes, you got in trouble, but you're still taking responsibility to go out there and show the young guys coming up that's the right way to be a teammate. It's unfortunate that it happened, but I think if he takes it as a lesson, he'll get over it."
DeJesus also made a point of talking to Castro after the game, which the Cubs lost, 4-0, to the Cardinals.
"At the end of the day, I was like, 'Hey, man, you'll be back in the lineup tomorrow, so let's start fresh,'" DeJesus said. "You just have to be positive. It's probably humiliating. There's probably a lot of emotions going through his brain right there. You try to pick him up and say, 'Hey, let's go tomorrow, don't worry about what happened today, and let's start fresh.'"
Not only has Castro struggled at the plate, but he also lost his mentor when Alfonso Soriano was traded to the Yankees. Soriano took Castro into his home when the young shortstop was called up in 2010.
"He always had 'Sori' to lean on, that was his guy, that was his veteran guy," DeJesus said. "Now, he's pretty much that guy for the other guys. It's going to be different but that's part of being a professional.
"Baseball will take you out of your comfort zone," DeJesus said. "He came in and he was coddled as a young player, and had 'Sori.' In this game, nothing is ever for sure. Now he has to understand there's a different role he has to take on, and he's going to be the 'Sori' to a lot of the young Latin guys coming up. He's got to take that role and run with it."
Some players aren't comfortable in that leadership role. But the Cubs are counting on the 23-year-old Castro, which is why they gave him a seven-year, $60 million contract last August.
"It's at that time of his career where those things probably need to start happening and where people do look up to him, but not everybody is that guy, either," Sveum said. "Not everybody is Soriano.
"The one thing you don't want to put on people is something that's not in their personality. Sometimes things click, sometimes people hit rock bottom, and that's the last time you see them. Let's not kid ourselves, there could be another gaffe somewhere along the line, too, and it's not meaningful or anything."
• Outfielder Brian Bogusevic, rehabbing a strained left hamstring, joined Triple-A Iowa to continue his rehab.
Bogusevic, sidelined since July 15, went 4-for-4 on Friday with the Arizona Rookie League team, and was 10-for-25 in seven games there. He hit four doubles and one triple, and also stole three bases.
• Scott Baker gave up one run on three hits, including a home run, over three innings for Class A Daytona in a rehab start Sunday, facing 11 batters. The right-hander, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, had last pitched on July 29, before weather interfered with his outings.
The Cubs hope he is healthy enough to appear in a big league game this year.
In three starts with Class A Kane County, Baker gave up 13 earned runs over 8 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking six. In one previous start with Daytona, he gave up one earned run on three hits over 3 1/3 innings.
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.