by Matt Eurich
After Starlin Castro’s call-up in 2010, it was thought that the sky was the limit for the young shortstop. Castro’s first game in the majors saw him go 2-5 with a homerun and a triple and knock in six runs. Castro capped off his impressive rookie year batting .300 with 139 hits in 463 at-bats in 2010. 2011 brought forth even more success for the then 21 year-old who finished the year batting .307 with 207 hits to go along with his first all-star game selection.
The 2012 season started out with much promise as Castro batted .333 in the month of April but his batting average for each subsequent month has gone downhill, .304, .264, .235, .179, resulting in Castro’s average to be sitting at .274 heading in to Monday night’s game against Houston.
Castro has been featured in various spots in the lineup this season, starting the season batting third, moving to the two spot upon Anthony Rizzo’s arrival, and now settling in to the fifth spot. The constant moving around in the lineup could have something to do with Castro’s lack of production as of late, but manager Dale Sveum thinks otherwise:
“Sometimes, guys have to understand that there are adjustments to be made in getting back to the simple things that got you here, whether it’s tone down the leg kick, tone down all the hand movement or whatever, things he didn’t do when he first got up to the big leagues,”
Although considered a veteran, fans need to realize that Castro is still just 22 years old, younger than both Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson. Pitchers around the league have learned what the best approach is for facing Castro and now is the time for Castro to make his own adjustments.
Manager Dale Sveum and hitting coach James Rowson have been working with Castro to become a more patient hitter and his struggles could be attributed to him focusing more on pitch selection. It is no secret that one of the biggest flaws in Castro’s game has been his patience, having only walked 20 times this season, but 15 of them have been since the firing of hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and the promotion of Rowson.
With any young hitter, patience is key. As fans, we have come accustomed to Castro hitting over .300 and nearing 200 hits per season because that is all we have ever known with him. Castro has always infuriated us defensively and it has begun on the offensive side of his game. We have to take a step back and understand that he is just 22 years old and once his maturity level begins to rise, the baseball will be quick to follow.
Most hitters go through struggles and the biggest difference between them being a good player or great player is their ability to make adjustments. Time will tell whether or not Castro has the ability to make the right adjustments and continue to be the player we all know he can be.