Maddon confident Castro will handle change

Cubs infielder could make first start at second base Saturday

Maddon confident Castro will handle change

CHICAGO -- Starlin Castro could get his first start at second base when the Cubs face White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana on Saturday. Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he has no doubt that Castro, bumped from shortstop, will handle the new assignment.

"He's ready to roll, his attitude is fabulous," Maddon said Wednesday. "He knows it's about winning, he knows he's a big part of us winning. It's up to me and us to put him out there at the right times."

Castro is batting .181 since the All-Star break, and .247 this season against lefties, compared to .233 against right-handed pitchers.

"He's still a really big part of the organization," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said of Castro, who has not started at shortstop in the last five games. "A 25-year-old with 200-hit seasons and three All-Star appearances, we still see him as a really good player. He's just suffering through a season that's not been him at his best.

"There's still a chance to turn things around," Epstein said. "His attitude has been unbelievable. He's gone out to second base without any hesitation, making a great play in his first game [Tuesday]. It's just a little bit of a dip in his career. We expect him to bounce back."

Castro's fine grab on popup

Epstein also cautioned that one never knows how soon they might need Castro because of the uncertainty in the game. On Tuesday, two players were hit by pitches on the wrist and forearm.

"We could've lost two guys last night," Epstein said. "You can't get too far ahead of yourself."

Extra bases:

• Seven Cubs pitchers have recorded a save this season, tied with the Rays for the most on one team in the Major Leagues. And Maddon is very comfortable mixing and matching the rest of the season in save situations.

"If you have that one solid guy at the end of the ballgame, of course you want that guy because then you can manipulate the previous eight innings," Maddon said. "When you don't have that one guy, then you've got to keep in mind all nine. Therein lies the difference."

Told that his former team was the only one with as many pitchers with saves, Maddon smiled and toasted them, saying, "Cheers."

Kyle Schwarber will catch again, but the Cubs aren't sure when. With the return of Miguel Montero from the disabled list, Schwarber has been playing more left field, starting there the last five games, including Wednesday.

"I've got to get him back there at some point," Maddon said of the rookie. "I don't want him to lose all the good work he's done. ... He's made so much progress with it."

• Asked if the new large video boards may be influencing the drop in home runs at Wrigley Field, Epstein shrugged. Maybe the wind has simply blown in more this year at the ballpark.

"Ask Al Gore," Epstein said.

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