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

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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.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.