Sveum looks to get Castro's 'swagger back'

Sveum looks to get Castro's 'swagger back'

Posted by Bruce on Wed, 08/21/2013 - 18:31

After further review, Cubs manager Dale Sveum thought better of batting Starlin Castro eighth. As we mentioned in our afternoon blog today, Sveum has Castro leading off tonight against the Nationals, with Anthony Rizzo batting second.

“Most of it came down to obviously thinking about Castro the last couple days,” Sveum said late this afternoon. “I don’t think we’re doing him any good trying to get through these next five weeks trying to get him and Rizzo feeling good going into the winter. Of all places, now that we’ve lost (David) DeJesus in the leadoff spot anyway, I think this is one spot that he’s flourished in and he kind of can use to get his so-called swagger back and see if that can get things going a little bit, too.

“Rizzo, it’s putting him somewhere that he doesn’t even have to think about it, being ‘the guy’ or whatever. You can put him in the 2-hole and make sure he gets up in the first inning without being feeling like, right now, taking a little pressure off as far as being the guy in the third hole or the fourth hole or the fifth.”

Looking at Castro’s splits, he has a career line of .318/.361/.459 batting first. His other batting averages are:

2nd: .291
3rd: 255
5th: .271
6th: .242
7th: .238
8th: .297

As unhappy as he seemed about hitting eighth yesterday, he seemed that much happier batting first.

“It’s good,” he said. “It’s good for me. I like it better first. When I had my year with 200 hits, that’s where I hit. I feel pretty good. I don’t have anything to say about that. I feel pretty good. I want to finish strong.”

As we mentioned earlier today, Castro is 1-for-27 on the current homestand while Rizzo is 2-for-24. Both players were out early today taking early batting practice, getting tosses from hitting coach James Rowson and hitting balls propelled from a pitching machine.

“Just get the swing back to where I want it to be,” Rizzo said. “We had the machine out there. That machine is hard to hit off of, so you’ve got to focus on seeing the ball and hit it well.”

Castro said he figures he can be more aggressive batting first because he can get better pitches to hit than he could batting eighth.

From the game notes: Donnie Murphy’s 7 home runs since Aug. 6 lead the NL and are tied for second most in the majors with Alfonso Soriano. Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera has 8 in that span. Murphy also has 8 doubles, giving him an .891 slugging percentage since Aug. 6. That leads the majors. Murphy’s 7 homers have come in 46 at-bats for 1 homer every 6.6 at-bats. Entering this season, Murphy had hit 18 big-league homers in 579 at-bats, or 1 every 32.2 at-bats … Tonight is the 13th straight game in which the Cubs face a right-handed pitcher (Washington’s Ross Ohlendorf).

MINOR-LEAGUE ROUNDUP

Class AAA Iowa got 3 in the ninth Tuesday to snap a five-game losing streak and eat New Orleans 3-0. Brooks Raley worked 8 innings, giving up 3 hits while walking none and striking out six. He’s 8-9 with a 4.15 ERA. Brad Nelson hit his 19th homer. For Raley, the 8 innings tied a career high. Park Ridge’s Brian Schlitter recorded his 18th save.

Tennessee (AA) fell 2-1 to Birmingham in the ninth inning. Nick Struck worked 5.2 innings and gave up 4 hits and 1 unearned run.

Daytona (A) had its game at Dunedin postponed because of rain. They’ll play two today. The Kane County Cougars (A) lost 7-4 to Clinton. Tyler Skulina worked 2.1 innings, giving up 5 hits and 5 runs in taking and loss. He’s 0-2 with a 9.31 ERA. Rock Shoulders was 2-for-4. Gioskar Amaya and Giuseppe Papaccio each had 2 hits.

Boise (A) lost its fourth straight, falling 5-4 to Tri-City. Dillon Maples got rocked for 6 hits and 5 runs in 4 innings as he fell to 5-1 with a 2.25 ERA. Yasiel Belaguert was 2-for-4. It was his 12th multihit game. Shawon Dunston Jr. was 2-for-5.

Mesa (Rookie) lost 6-4 to the Giants David Garner got the loss, pitching just one-third of an inning and giving up 5 hits and 5 runs, 4 earned. Charcer Burks was 2-for-5 as was Kelvin Freeman. Trevor Stevens and Wilfredo Petit each had 2 hits.

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