6/20/2014 9:51 P.M. ET
Relaxed Starlin blasts past 2013 homer total
Cubs shortstop belts 11th dinger and is one RBI shy of last season's tally
By Joe Popely / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- With a three-run home run to left off Charlie Morton in the third inning of Friday's 6-3 win over the Pirates, Starlin Castro surpassed his homer total from all of last season.
Castro's 11th blast of 2014 is just one measure of his bounceback year. After struggling to career lows in hitting (.245) and OPS (.631) while falling back in the RBI category with 44 last season, Castro is hitting .290 with 43 RBIs already this season.
"He's relaxing," said Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. "Last year is behind him, behind both of us, behind everyone. He's just relaxing and playing loose, and he's playing better at shortstop, as well. Everything's carrying over."
Castro's homer gives him 34 extra-base hits, which, for the time being, surpasses Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki for the most among National League shortstops. For NL players at the position, Castro (.290) trails only Tulowitzki (.356) in hitting.
Tulowitzki may be on another planet right now, but doesn't Castro deserve a hard look for an All-Star selection?
"I can't answer that quesiton," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "All I know is the guys are doing a nice job, and they're being seen and recognized as doing a nice job. We'll let all that kind of other stuff take care of itself."
Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.