Alfonso Soriano says Starlin Castro needs to “concentrate more on the game”

9 Comments

Starlin Castro wasn’t the only member of the Cubs who made mistakes in yesterday’s loss to the Reds at Wrigley Field. In fact, the Cubs committed five errors for the first time since 2006. But the 22-year-old was the focus after the game.

Castro, who has a history of mental lapses, committed a fielding error on a slow roller in the top of the third inning and was involved in a baserunning blunder in the bottom of the sixth. The gaffe on the basepaths was particularly facepalm-worthy. After Castro reached on a bloop single that nearly got him thrown out at first base for making a wide turn around the bag, he lost track of the ball on a single by Josh Vitters to right field and was thrown out at third base after being deked by Brandon Phillips at second base.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum initially didn’t rule out the possibility of benching Castro to send a message, but he was back in the lineup this afternoon following a closed-door meeting. Sveum wouldn’t really disclose what was said, but veteran outfielder Alfonso Soriano also met with Castro and told Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com that the young shortstop’s brain still needs to catch up with his obvious physical gifts.

“It can be hard (to be so young), but we play baseball because we love baseball and that’s what we do for a living; that’s our career,” Soriano said. “We have to prepare 100 percent. Like I said to him yesterday, it’s not only catch the ball and throw the ball and hit the ball. This game is more mental. You have to prepare mentally and physically too. Not just physical. You have to prepare yourself mentally and all those little errors mentally cannot happen in this game.”

“He’ll be fine, but like I said, he needed motivation,” Soriano said. “He has to concentrate more on the game because it’s only a 3-3½ hour game. After that you can do whatever you want. You have plenty of time.”

Castro, who is now in his third year in the big leagues, entered play Saturday with a .275/.305/.417 batting line to go along with 11 home runs, 56 RBI and a .723 OPS. He is just 18-for-28 in stolen base attempts (his 10 caught stealings are tied with Willie Bloomquist of the Diamondbacks for the major league lead) while his 17 errors tie him with Dee Gordon of the Dodgers for the major league lead among shortstops.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.