Starlin Castro (STAFF PHOTO/PAM DAVIS)
Rookie Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro made his Wrigley Field debut Monday night after a whirlwind weekend in Cincinnati, which saw him make his major league debut with a record-setting six RBI.
Expectations for Cubs rookies have been high in the past (see Corey Patterson and Felix Pie) but manager Lou Piniella tried to temper those hopes.
"They shouldn't expect that much out of him," Piniella said. "They should just let the young man play. He had that really, really big game his first major league game, but don't put that type of expectation on him. Just let him play. Let him relax. Let him settle in as a good young major league shortstop."
Castro came up known more for his hitting than his fielding. He made a key error over the weekend in Cincinnati and committed two throwing errors and one fielding error Monday against the Marlins, with one leading to an unearned run.
That's one of the reasons the Cubs will be having Castro take extra fielding every day. He's been working with coaches Ivan DeJesus and Alan Trammell (both former standout shortstops) around second base with second baseman Ryan Theriot, who moved over from short to accommodate Castro.
DeJesus said much of the focus will be on "the routine play." All of Castro's errors have come on routine balls hit to him.
--John Grabow threw Monday and proclaimed himself ready to pitch, though he wasn't used in that night's game. Grabow came back to Chicago over the weekend after experiencing soreness in his left knee. He underwent an MRI and Piniella said Grabow had a cortisone injection in the knee.
"It's something I've been pitching through for a while," Grabow said. "It's been bothering me for a few weeks now. I tried to pitch through it. I thought maybe it would go away. It hadn't gone away."
--Despite their offensive woes, the Cubs have four players batting better than .300: Marlon Byrd (.344), Theriot (.331), Alfonso Soriano (.340) and Kosuke Fukudome (.315). The problem has been timely and productive hitting.
"We've just got to figure out on a consistent basis how to put five or six runs on the board," Piniella said. "Look at this last road trip we just had. We scored three runs or less five out of the six games. You've got to play perfect ball to win those type of games. And it's hard to play perfect ball all the time."
--Castro committed a mental error in addition to three fielding errors. After his third error, a fielding miscue on a grounder by Hanley Ramirez, Castro didn't run after the ball in left field, and Ramirez took second base.
"Yeah, he learned a few things tonight," Piniella said. "We just had a talk with him upstairs."
--Soriano extended his hitting streak to nine games. He's 16-for-34 (.471) during the streak. He has 11 multi-hit games this season. Soriano also gunned down a runner at the plate on a single to left.
--Ted Lilly fell to 1-3 despite making two quality starts. He held the Marlins hitless through 5 1/3 innings but wound up allowing four runs (three earned) in seven innings. He says his surgically repaired left shoulder is feeling fine. He didn't make his first start this year until April 24.
"It was better," he said of his arm strength. "The ball is coming out a little bit better. The command was a little bit better."