I’m sure Jack McKeon would have benched Starlin Castro for the rest of the decade by now, but Cubs manager Mike Quade has taken a less extreme approach to handling the 21-year-old shortstop’s lack of hustle.
In the first inning of yesterday’s game Castro failed to run after a ground ball that went past him and into the outfield, forcing center fielder Reed Johnson to make the play, and after giving him an immediate scolding Quade later said:
It better not happen again, and he knows it. He just gets frustrated. He wants to make the play. He doesn’t make the play, and then just has a letdown. I’m sorry he didn’t make the play either. It would’ve been a great play. But stay after the play and stay involved. Then later on he dove for a ball and Reed was right there. That bothered me some.
Quade went on to praise Castro’s overall performance this season and promoted his All-Star candidacy. A manager freaking out about a 21-year-old’s lack of hustle would create more headlines and garner approval from a certain segment of the fan base, but ultimately I think Quade is taking the right approach. Castro is an incredible young talent having an excellent season and if the manager is confident his lack of hustle won’t turn into a bigger problems there’s no reason to blow things out of proportion for now.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.