If Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has shown anything in his young Major League career, it’s that he can hit, but is subject to lapses in the field. Whether those lapses are physical or mental is yet unclear, but one thing is certain: it’s gotta change. This team will not win anything if they’re not at least average defensively, and they won’t be average defensively if they’ve got one of the worst defensive shortstops in the game.

Manager Mike Quade realizes this, and he’s taking action.

Quade said he aid he had to ask himself: “Is it inexperience, is it concentration or focus?”

So Quade said he had a long talk with Castro on Wednesday morning at HoHoKam Park “about demanding a more intense approach in his practice sessions.”  He asked infield coach Ivan DeJesus to change the fielding practice routine for Castro, to “bear down at the end of ground balls every day.”

On Monday, Castro got picked off first by San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, then made a high throw to first the next inning.

“You get your work, you understand the situations that have been presented to you that day, but the last 3-5 minutes are game situation, period, Quade said. “Somehow, someway, put yourself into a game situation and play for keeps. The same on the bases when you run the bases in batting practice. Just to get him and anybody else that needs to be more focused.”

Quade said he was “not interested in panicking” because of the defensive problems, but felt it was time to talk to Castro. Chicago Breaking Sports.

Quade may not be interested in panicking, but he’s clearly concerned enough to devote special attention to the issue.

The problem with Castro is that even his errors are inconsistent – he’ll drop a pop up, then he won’t get down on a grounder, then he’ll airmail a throw. Given his obvious physical gifts, it seems likely that the issue is one of concentration and effort. Believe me, I hate saying that about a 21-year-old kid who still has plenty of room to grow, but it seems to be the case. Let’s just hope he does that growing, and Quade continues to help guide him there.

  • Jody

    I’m not too worried yet, he’s the best around and nothing’s going to ever keep him down.

    • Kenny L.

      I can’t t hink of what movie that’s from.

      • jim

        It’s a song in Karate Kid.

  • PFK

    It’s clearly focus, concentration and effort with Castro. He’s loaded with talent and he has laser focus when batting. Otherwise, his mind drifts – often. He forgets how many are out, he gets picked off, he forgets to cover the bag. When you air mail throws you are just not focused. He also doesn’t seem to learn. They have spent hours working with him but his fielding hasn’t improved at all and he still can’t figure out how to tag a sliding runner. Unfortunately, he plays next to one of the most famous players in the game for Jaking it – Ramirez. And, behind him in left field is a player almost as bad as Ramirez for Jaking it – Soriano. Bad role models for sure.

    • wax_eagle

      Some of this comes with age and experience. Rami’s D got better when he came to Chicago (still not good, but better).

      The guy has a lot of physical talent, but instilling in him the discipline and drive to be a good defender and a good base runner will depend both on the coaching staff’s ability to relate to him, and on his ability to take correction and teaching.

      Think back to when you were 20, how many things did you do that you didn’t enjoy doing. I was in college and it was really hard for me to study subjects I found boring or uninteresting (still is).

      Point being, if Castro is concentrated on one thing and not on other things, maybe they just aren’t as enjoyable. There are things you can do and ways that you can change your view point to make things you don’t like, or don’t want to do enjoyable. Fielding and base running don’t have the instant gratification that hitting does, and people don’t judge them the same way, but they are important, and Castro needs to realize that they can be fun too. I think if they can be presented in a way that makes them enjoyable exercises he will probably respond better.

  • Tex

    I think it is clear that it was a HUGE mistake not to bring in a veteran shortstop to help mentor Castro. Orlando Cabrera would have only cost 1 million and would have been the perfect veteran to come in and teach Castro what it takes to be an everyday shortstop.

    • wax_eagle

      Not to mention a better option at 2b as far as offense is concerned.

  • philoe beddoe

    the scary thing is..he could just be a bad fielder..like a young Soriano..who was a SS….then a 2B….then a CF(laughable)..then the worst LF in the league…just because he is young and athletic doesn’t mean he can be a good SS…sorry to mix sports but the Bears have been fooled by Daniel Manning for years..really fast, really athletic, shitty safety….can’t do it..athleticism doesn’t guarantee the skillset

    Castro might just suck at defense, and DeJesus can give him grounder after grounder and it won’t matter..

    I am sure that’s what everybody wanted to hear

    • wax_eagle

      The fact is the issue isn’t physical, its between the ears. A dedicated, gifted athlete can get good at any aspect of the sport he chooses to focus on. Its a matter of putting in the practice time and actually wanting to get better. Both of those things are mental.

      • Jeff

        I thought the rap on Castro last year was that he had a major league quality glove and his bat was going to struggle to catch up.

        He is only 21, so he should get better. Rey Ordonez had a similiar rookie season error wise and then won 3 straight gold gloves, and was considered a defensive wiz during his career. Historically, this isn’t a really big concern, shortstops have up and down careers in the field, and I think Starlin will figure it out sooner than later.

  • jstraw

    He could just be a dipshit.

    • Ace

      Always a possibility. I know I was at 21.