8/3/2014 9:21 P.M. ET
Castro gets first breather of the season
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- Cubs manager Rick Renteria has talked to Starlin Castro about taking a day off for about a week, and on Sunday, the shortstop finally sat.
Castro was not in the starting lineup for the Cubs' series finale against the Dodgers, the first game he has not started this season. He was the only Cubs player to be in all 109 games.
However, Castro was called on in the eighth inning to pinch-hit and delivered a two-run single against the Dodgers. Castro was then lifted for a pinch-runner, pitcher Travis Wood, to enjoy the rest of his day.
Castro had tried to talk Renteria out of the mini vacation.
"I told him, I don't need it, but they told me it'll be good for you, today and tomorrow, day off," Castro said, looking ahead to Monday's off-day.
Castro struggled in July, batting .221, but was 6-for-11 in two games against the Dodgers, so it's understandable that he wouldn't want a breather now.
"I think he's been one of those guys, like all the guys, they don't want to come out of the ballgame," Renteria said. "He's been working really, really hard, even as we've talked about [a day off], just in general. He'd push himself to show me he's still fresh. We know he needs a day, and two days in a row will really help him."
Castro has 11 home runs, but hasn't hit one since June 20. Renteria said they feel Castro is trying to generate power and not letting his "approach allow him to do what he can do."
In 2012, Castro played in all 162 games, and he was in 161 in 2013.
Renteria explains why he swapped relievers
LOS ANGELES -- Carlos Villanueva is usually the Cubs' long man but on Saturday night, manager Rick Renteria called on the right-hander to face Drew Butera with two outs and a runner at third in the sixth inning of a tie game. It worked, as Butera popped up on the first pitch and the inning was over.
But Villanueva didn't stay in the game, which went 12 innings. The right-hander was lifted in the seventh for Brian Schlitter, who has been used in short relief. It was as if their roles were reversed. Renteria's reasoning?
One, Renteria said, was that starter Tsuyoshi Wada was tired at that point after throwing 103 pitches. But the batter was Butera, who was batting about .190. Renteria said he thought the Dodgers might pinch-hit for Butera.
"He gets one pitch, he gets an out," Renteria said of Villanueva.
Renteria didn't want to use one of his power arms against Butera, and knew he had lefty Chris Rusin as an option for long relief.
"Fortunately for us it worked out," Renteria said.
Castro eager to see Baez in Majors
LOS ANGELES -- On May 7, 2010, Starlin Castro was promoted from Double-A Tennessee to the Cubs. The team was playing in Cincinnati, and Castro had a game to remember, hitting a home run in his first at-bat and finishing with six RBIs.
Castro is hoping Javier Baez can have the same success when he is eventually promoted to the big leagues. And Castro would like that day to be soon.
"Maybe this year, yeah," Castro said when asked if he'd like to see Baez, the No. 2 prospect on MLB.com's top 20 list of Cubs players. "I don't know when but he has to be here some day."
With the Cubs in last place in the National League Central, there has been a lot of attention on the players in the Minor Leagues and when they'll make their debuts. Baez batted .300 in July, and hit two home runs on Sunday to raise his season total to 23. He now has 80 RBIs with Iowa.
"He has the ability, he has the talent," Castro said of Baez, who has been playing second base to help the transition to the big league team. "I think he can do the same -- come here and keep playing, keep doing his job. I think it'll be good for him."
Castro is hoping Baez is called up to stay. In 2010, Castro remembers being nervous every time there was a transaction, thinking he would go back to the Minor Leagues. But he never did.
"I had a lot of scary moments my first year here," he said. "Thank God, I never went back to the Minor Leagues. Those guys we have in the Minor Leagues, they have the ability and the talent to be here for their whole career."
• Felix Doubront, on the disabled list with a left calf strain, threw a bullpen session on Sunday at Dodger Stadium and expected to throw a couple more as he continues his rehab.
Doubront, whom the Cubs acquired last week from the Red Sox for a player to be named, was going to accompany the Cubs to Denver for a three-game series against Colorado, which starts Tuesday.
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.