Cubs Spring blog: Castro's address, call Soriano "Papi" and Mr. Ricketts goes out on a limb.
Starlin Castro looked like a little kid about to lay across a parent’s knee as he walked up to our cameras. The Cubs shortstop had already been grilled for hours by police over allegations of sexual assault. Now it was time for his first meeting with the media since then. Fortunately for him these were Chicago sports reporters who cover the team.
“I had a great winter preparing to be ready on the field and be ready to play baseball,” said Castro who’s English has gotten better since last season.
So has this offseason been difficult?
“In the beginning it’s tough you know but I had to take this out of my mind and [prepare] to play baseball.”
When asked what exactly happened that night Castro said, “Yeah, I cooperated with the police and talking about that. I don’t have all the kind of stuff to say about that. I’m here to play baseball and practice very hard with this team.”
Baseball has been very very good to young All-Star which is why he’ll likely stay with the team regardless of what police decide to do. No charges have been filed yet months since the allegations surfaced.
Fellow Dominican Republic Native Alfonso Soriano helped Castro through the winter telling him everything will be OK.
“Soriano talked to me all the time,” Castro said. “[He] told me don’t worry about it. I know you didn’t do [anything].”
Soriano spoke to us later in the clubhouse and said he felt bad for the 21-year old and decided to take him under his wing.
“I know how difficult it is to be two years in the big leagues,” said Soriano who like Castro was among the last to report to camp. “I try to give him some support in any way not only talking about baseball but outside baseball too. Because he needs some help because he is so young. That’s my job to make him a better player and a better person too. He’s such a great guy and he thinks everybody is [his] friend with him and now he knows that he has to be a little bit more careful.”
Castro echoed that.
“You have to be careful because there’s a lot of bad people in the world.”
Castro then fielded baseball questions about his fielding, which he says he wants to improve this spring.
“I’m working hard on my defensive work. My running bases. I want to steal more bases.”
Castro received a standing ovation at the Cubs Convention. Soriano however was booed. Despite knocking in 26 home runs and 88 runs fans are upset with Soriano’s lack of hustle. He said he understands and plans to turn those boos into cheers.
“The fans when you do well they support you,” said Soriano who’s still the subject of trade rumors. “When you’re doing bad they [do] not support [anybody]. See what happens this year. I came here to work [and] not even think about the fans just about my job and what I can do on the field.”
So does that mean you’ll hustle out every play like new Skipper Dale Sveum expects?
“He’s the manager and we can do that so we can play hard for him,” he said. “So I think if we play harder every day we see a difference. I want to try and do my best to make him happy because he’s the manager. If he’s happy the whole club is happy.”
And are you on board with the ‘Cubs Way’, I asked?
“I don’t know. I think [it’s] my way. I hope that their way is my way too. We have to be on the same page.”
When asked about the ‘Cubs Way’ owner Tom Ricketts confirmed there will be a written manifesto coming out. The question is, will it be a pamphlet or a tome?
“What they’re doing is they’re putting everything down on paper and they’re signing off on it,” Ricketts said. “Everybody is working together to create something that everyone buys into. So not only does it help you be more consistent in the way you treat players and the way you train players, everyone buys in. You’re accountable, and that’s a big part of the Cubs way.”
Mr. Ricketts then went on a limb when asked if he was preaching patience this season.
“We’re not preaching patience, we’re preaching have high expectations,” he said. “Expect these guys to play hard. Expect them to compete every game. Expect them to have a great season. It’s not about patience. We’re going to have a good team and we’re going to have a good year.”
Stay tuned Cub fans.