We’re a little over a week into spring training for the Chicago Cubs. At least twice now, Rick Renteria has talked about Starlin Castro leading off. I think it’s a pretty good bet that if he has a decent spring, we should expect to see him there on Opening Day.
“Starlin has had that role in the past – I think he did a pretty nice job based on his skill set,” Renteria said. “He’s not what you would consider a typical on-base guy. But I think as he continues to get more and more comfortable (that can improve).
“Hopefully this is a year in which he recovers maybe some of his confidence – that little edge that he brought – which (everyone) saw when he was coming up.”
One thing Starlin has going for him is that there’s no one on the roster who’s a better choice to lead off. But Starlin is willing to hit wherever Renteria puts him.
“My choice, I like second or first, but it’s not my decision,” Castro said. “Everywhere he puts me, I try to do my job.”
And Renteria was happy with Starlin’s attitude when they had their first sit-down meeting.
“He’s a young man who has been here and just had a seemingly tumultuous existence,” Renteria said. “He’s very excited. We liked the way he looked in (our) meeting. He was very happy. Quite frankly, we just told him to be himself, expand on his skills and improve his approach at the plate. As a matter of fact, he spoke a bit more than we did.”
“In fact, we could hardly get him to shut up.”
Anthony Rizzo is ready to bounce back from a less-than-stellar 2013, too.
“The biggest thing in going to the next level is consistency,” Rizzo said. “I want to be consistent everyday. On offense, on defense, coming to the field everyday. Just be consistent.
“You have to learn how to hit home runs. I say that at the lower levels. When you hit a home run at 18 or 19 all you want to do is hit another one. It’s not about hitting home runs. It’s about putting a good swing on the ball. The home runs are a product of putting a good swing on the ball. I have to say that to myself sometimes.”
Will Rizzo ever be able to hit for power and average?
“You can hit for a high average and high power too, it’s just about staying consistent with your swing and letting it take care of itself,” Rizzo said. “You can’t dictate where the ball is going to go, you can only put a good swing on it.”
We’ll pray for the best, but I don’t think Rizzo is ever going to be Miguel Cabrera. While we’re on the subject of Cub infielders looking to rebound from awful 2013 seasons, let’s see what Mike Olt is up to. Olt is getting back into the baseball groove after finally clearing up his vision issues. He faced live pitching for the first time Wednesday.
“For my first at-bats in a long time, it’s the best I’ve ever felt in Spring Training,” said Olt, who faced right-hander Neil Ramirez. “I’m not even counting last year, but the year before that. I saw the ball really well.”
“I got in the box and I wasn’t sure if I was going to swing or not, but I got in there and felt comfortable and saw the ball really well, took a couple swings and I feel like I’m ahead of schedule,” he said.
Someone who isn’t ahead of schedule is Jake Arrieta.
Jake Arrieta, slowed this spring after feeling some tightness in his right shoulder, still has yet to throw off a mound in camp. The right-hander was projected as the fourth starter but most likely will not be ready by Opening Day.
That means Jason Hammel should slot into the number four spot, and a wild shootout for the fifth starter.