Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro flew home to the Dominican Republic last Wednesday following the death of his cousin and three close friends in a car wreck. He is back in the Cubs’ lineup Tuesday, having been activated from the bereavement list, but will be playing with a heavy heart in the Cubs’ series-opener at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park.
“It’s a really tough time, man,” Castro told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday. “The only guy that knows [why] is God. He knows how things happen. I had to be there no matter what, to go there and take that time. But I’m happy to get back. I’m feeling bad, but I’m here and I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.”
The 24-year-old is having a resurgent 2014 campaign, batting .284/.333/.429 with 13 home runs and 64 RBI in 125 games after batting just .245/.284/.347 with 10 home runs and 44 RBI across 162 games in 2013.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.