Defensive improvement a priority

Maddon sets Gold Glove goal for Castro, others

Defensive improvement a priority

MESA, Ariz. -- Joe Maddon has told some of the Cubs he can't wait for the start of the 2016 season. If his players follow through on his challenge, they could be at home plate, collecting some impressive hardware.

"He said it's really important to him that you come into the next season and come to home plate and somebody gives you a Gold Glove," Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro said of the top defensive award. "That's what everybody has in their mind now -- win a Gold Glove. To win a Gold Glove, you have to play good defense. Everybody has this idea."

That would mean cutting down on errors, which have plagued Castro in his five seasons. On Thursday night, he couldn't cleanly field Chris Owings' grounder in the D-backs' fourth, and his error led to three runs.

Goldy scores on error

"Those things happen sometime," Castro said. "It's not going to happen every time."

The Cubs are trying to get Castro to establish a consistent routine with his pregame work, as well as his approach on the field.

"It's primarily techniques -- coming to get the ball, not laying back on the ball -- but not necessarily doing anything different," Maddon said. "The biggest thing is coming to get the ball. The ball last night ate him up because he stayed back on it."

Castro ranked fifth in the National League in errors last season with 15, but led the NL in miscues from 2011-13. He's aware that he needs to improve his glovework.

"We'll have a lot of days that we're not going to hit, but if we play defense, we'll win the game," Castro said. "If we score one and we play good defense, we have a chance to win."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.