6/21/2014 7:39 P.M. ET
Renteria: Ease up on Castro
By Carrie Muskat and Joe Popely / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Starlin Castro hit his 11th home run in Friday's 6-3 win over the Pirates, surpassing his total from all of last season. His home-run total to date is just one measure of how he's bounced backed from a rough 2013.
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.
With Castro's 2013 struggles came mounds of criticism. Cubs manager Rick Renteria noted that even before he was hired by the Cubs, it seemed as though Castro was to blame for all of the team's woes. Renteria finds that to be unfair, and said this is the first year he hasn't heard from that crowd.
"You can hear when people are being very critical of the young man, at different stages of his life," Renteria said. "Just know that I think that he's adjusting, he's moving forward, he continues to get better and we're really happy about it."
Castro's homer gives him 34 extra-base hits, which ties him with Troy Tulowitzki for the most among National League shortstops entering play Saturday. For NL players at the position, Castro (.290) trails only Tulowitzki (.363) in hitting. Tulowitzki may be on another planet right now, but doesn't Castro deserve a hard look at his third All-Star selection?
"I can't answer that question," 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."
Whether or not Castro makes it to Minneapolis this summer, Renteria thinks he and his coaching staff are reaping the benefits of the 24-year-old's ability to learn from last season.
"He's experienced a lot of different ways of being dealt with, and believe me, he takes the good of from everybody that's been here though the years that he's been here and tried to apply them," Renteria said. "I just happen to be right now, and the coaches that are here and are trying to work with him happen to be the beneficiaries of all those bumps and bruises."
Castillo singles in first Minor League rehab game
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Cubs catcher Welington Castillo went 1-for-5, hitting a single in the sixth, in his first Minor League rehab game with Triple-A Iowa on Friday night.
Castillo grounded out in his four other at-bats.
"The reports are that he's feeling good," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "He played nine innings last night. Couple blocked balls, couple ground balls with no incident, felt good. He continues to progress."
His rehab was delayed one day because of wet grounds at Principal Park. Castillo was in Thursday's lineup but rain delayed the start of the game for more than one hour. Iowa manager Marty Pevey said he scratched Castillo as a precaution because he didn't want to risk having the catcher slip on the wet area behind home plate.
Castillo has been on the disabled list since June 2 with left rib cage inflammation. He did take batting practice on Thursday and caught in the bullpen prior to the game. Castillo was expected to play Saturday.
Prospect Bryant not worried about big leagues
DES MOINES -- Kris Bryant had not heard about comments made by Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein regarding plans for the team's highly regarded prospect. All he was interested in Saturday was the daily schedule.
Bryant was promoted from Double-A Tennessee to Triple-A Iowa on Thursday, and Epstein was asked whether there was a chance the third baseman could join the big league team this year.
"I don't think it's the right thing to do in someone's first full professional season, barring extraordinary circumstances both to the player and what's going on with the big league club," Epstein told reporters Friday in Chicago. "I think it would be a tremendous accomplishment to dominate Double-A the way he did the first half of the season and go to Triple-A and continue his development, stay healthy all year and be productive all year and continue to work on his weaknesses."
Bryant, 22, has been on the fast track since he was selected second overall in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. He was leading the Southern League in the Triple Crown categories when promoted.
"They have a plan for everybody," Bryant said Saturday. "They've been doing it for quite a while. They've had so many good players, so you have to trust their plan, and I definitely do."
When he was told of his promotion to Iowa, there was no talk about being one step away from the big leagues.
"They just told me pack your bags, you're going to Iowa," Bryant said. "I think if you keep it short and sweet, your head doesn't get too big and you don't think you're better than the game. I won't ever think like that. That's not the type of person I am."
Charity concert raises nearly $200,000
CHICAGO -- The third annual Hot Stove Cool Music Chicago Benefit Concert on Friday night raised an estimated $200,000 for Cubs Charities and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein's Foundation To Be Named Later.
The event featured Epstein, Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons and Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper, who joined an all-star lineup of musicians and personalities.
Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine was the headliner for the event. Future Monarchs and the Chicago Hot Stove All-Stars -- Jimmy Chamberlin of Smashing Pumpkins, John Stirratt of Wilco, Scott Lucas of Local H, and Eddie "King" Roeser of Urge Overkill -- were among others showcasing their talents. The event ended with a surprise performance by Cheap Trick.
Hot Stove Cool Music, which was founded in 2000, has raised more than $6 million for the Foundation To Be Named Later and the Jimmy Fund. Epstein and his brother, Paul, started their foundation in 2005 to create positive opportunities for disadvantaged children and families.
• Chris Coghlan, who went 2-for-3 with a triple and home run on Friday, was hitting leadoff for Saturday's game. Renteria said that's doesn't mean Luis Valbuena, who is hitting fifth, won't go back to the top of the order.
"He's had some good at-bats and is driving the ball … but it allows me to but Val back in the five spot again," Renteria said. "Not to say I won't use Val in the No. 1 spot again, but it just opens it up for us a little bit."
• Cubs starters have recorded 36 quality starts this season, yet have only 17 individual wins from starters in those games. The club is 19-17 overall in those games, but has won 12 of its last 15 games in which it has received a quality start.
• With a .900 OPS Anthony Rizzo ranks second to only Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt (.940) among National League first baseman.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.