Castro's shift to keystone official with first start

Reliever Soriano making progress; Maddon mum on potential Wild Card starter

Castro's shift to keystone official with first start

CHICAGO -- Starlin Castro, bumped from shortstop by rookie Addison Russell, was back in the Cubs' starting lineup Friday for the first time since Aug. 6 while making his first career start at second base. And he did just fine.

Castro had to turn a double play in the first inning, and he did so cleanly, in addition to going 3-for-4 at the plate in the Cubs' 6-5 win over the White Sox. He admitted that things seem a little backward now that he's moved from short to second.

"A little bit, especially the first ground ball, the double-play ground ball was a little bit tough," Castro said. "We keep practicing every day."

Manager Joe Maddon said he hoped the time off would help Castro, who entered Friday batting .189 since the All-Star break. Russell was batting .276 since the break. Could Castro get regular playing time again?

"Sure -- we'll see how it all plays out," Maddon said. "I'm very open-minded about that. This guy has been a big part of [the Cubs] for the past several years. I'm a big fan of his work ethic. I think he really cares a lot and all that stuff matters. It's just been a tough year for him."

Since the Aug. 6 game, Castro, a three-time All-Star at shortstop, had subbed at second base twice late in the game for Chris Coghlan.

"I didn't put my head down -- I kept working hard and when I got my opportunity, I just did my best," Castro said.

• Maddon hoped to take advantage of playing in an American League ballpark and use the designated-hitter spot to give some players a breather. On Friday, Kyle Schwarber was the DH against right-hander Jeff Samardzija, but Maddon admitted he probably should've used Anthony Rizzo. The White Sox will start a lefty in the next two games of the series.

"I might have screwed that up," Maddon said about spelling Rizzo.

Soriano escapes a jam

Rafael Soriano, on the disabled list since Aug. 5 with right shoulder inflammation, is making progress and could throw some simulated games soon, Maddon said. The right-hander appeared in six games with the Cubs before he was injured.

"Now, when you talk to him, I can see a sense of relief that he does feel better," Maddon said of Soriano. "He's definitely moving on the right path."

• If the season ended today, the Cubs would face the Pirates in the National League Wild Card Game. Who would start, Jake Arrieta or Jon Lester?

"Let's just win the division," Maddon said.

Maddon said he liked that fans were talking about things like that.

"That's what you're supposed to do -- if you're a fan, you're supposed to do those things," he said. "I'm not supposed to, they are supposed to."

What's Maddon's answer?

"Tell [the fans] to talk it through and give me their best advice, please," he said.

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.