Maddon: Castro could return to starting lineup

'The consistent, hard contact was really nice to see,' Cubs skipper says

Maddon: Castro could return to starting lineup

SAN FRANCISCO -- Starlin Castro, who lost his job as the Cubs starting shortstop, could work his way back into the every day lineup, manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday.

Castro had three hits Tuesday, and missed hitting for the cycle by a triple. He was in the lineup for Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the Giants at second base and in the No. 2 spot for only the second time this season.

"The consistent, hard contact was really nice to see," Maddon said of Castro's approach in Tuesday's 8-5 win. "The fact that he's taken so readily and easily to second base -- just the way he's handled this professionally speaks loudly to me and the whole group. This guy is an All-Star-caliber player. He just had a hard time this year and it happens, it happens to all of us. I think he's done everything properly. We'll see how it all plays out."

Castro was benched after the Aug. 6 game when he was batting .236, and rookie Addison Russell moved from second to shortstop.

Worth noting

Dexter Fowler, nicked up after getting hit by a pitch on his hand Monday, then fouling a ball off his shin on Tuesday, was given Wednesday off to give him time to heal.

"It just seemed like the right thing to do," Maddon said of the breather. "I'm always looking for excuses to give guys a day off."

Fowler has started in center in 117 of the Cubs' 125 games, and entering Wednesday ranked third in the National League with 84 runs scored. The 84 runs equal Fowler's career high, set in 2011 with the Rockies.

• Catcher David Ross was placed on the family medical emergency list, and will be away from the team for a minimum of three games, maximum of seven. Outfielder Matt Szczur was recalled from Triple-A Iowa.

Ross would be eligible to return Saturday at the earliest, which is Jon Lester's next scheduled start. Ross and Lester have been paired together this season.

• Rookie Kyle Schwarber led off Wednesday for the first time this season, going 2-for-4 with a run scored. 

It's a role he's familiar with, as Schwarber would lead off in college.

"I like the fact that he comes around more often, the fact that Addison is swinging the bat a lot better at the bottom [of the order] helps, also," Maddon said. "I don't see it as being a stretch."

Neither did Schwarber, who leads the Cubs with nine home runs and 23 RBIs in August.

"To me there's no different approach to the game," Schwarber said. "You're the first hitter, and once the game starts, you're not the first hitter any more. I won't have any problem with it. I'll just approach it like it's any other at-bat."

Rafael Soriano began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday. The right-hander has been on the disabled list since Aug. 4 with right shoulder inflammation. He was not expected to be activated from the DL until after Sept. 1.

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.