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starlin castro hatersIn every stage performance featuring kids in the three to six-year-old range, you know you will see a handful of “types.” The cryer. The frozen. The ad-libber. And the nose-picker. Which one are you rooting for as your kid? Do you really care? Well, yesterday, we had … the nose-picker. Unfortunately for The Little Girl, she was staged front-and-center, and put on a nose-picking show like it was part of the choreography. Thankfully, she did it with a smile, and we all had a blast watching her (she managed some excellent dance moves when she wasn’t mining for goblins).

  • After his two double game yesterday, Starlin Castro’s slash line climbed to a career-best .302/.341/.491. It’s still only mid-May, but everything’s going well for Castro this year: his walk rate is slightly up, his power (ISO) is way, way up, his strikeouts are way down, and his line drive rate is way up. If Troy Tulowitzki wasn’t going all Barry Bonds, we’d be talking about the fact that Castro is having the best offensive season of *any shortstop in baseball* right now. I don’t think I can emphasize that enough.
  • Castro has been crazy good this year, and you have to wonder how much credit is owed to new manager Ricky Renteria. Certainly, Castro deserves the bulk of the credit (he worked very hard in the offseason, and he’s the one, you know, hitting the ball), and there were some external circumstances that have improved for Castro. But given how much the previous coaching staff worked with Castro on his approach last year, largely at the behest of the front office, and given how spectacularly awful he was last year, you wonder if his uptick this year is simply a matter of feeling more comfortable with the man (and the coaching staff) working with him on his approach. Of course, on the other hand, you could argue that the hard lessons he learned last year are simply taking root this year – indeed, the goal of the approach changes (focus on a smaller hitting zone, be selective in pitches you can drive) was to increase Castro’s power (that’s happened) and increase Castro’s walks (up slightly from last year, anyway).
  • Pedro Strop (groin) threw a bullpen session this weekend, and then headed to Mesa, Arizona where he’ll presumably start appearing in Extended Spring Training games before heading out on a rehab assignment (Cubs.com).
  • Anthony Rizzo’s approach at the plate continues to improve – have you noticed how relaxed he looks up there, regardless of the count? – and he’s now fifth in the league in pitches per plate appearance (ESPNChicago).
  • Renteria subscribes to the “clutch” philosophy I believe to be most likely: although there isn’t really a special ability that allows guys to be better than they would otherwise be in those situations, there is an ability to be calm and productive, regardless of the situation. “I think there are clutch approaches,” Renteria told Bruce Miles. “I think there are hitters who have good approaches in those situations. Part of that is they take the anxiety, somehow they’re able to manage the anxiety in those situations.”
  • Myles was on the radio this weekend talking Cubs and Cubs-related-what-have-you.

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