Castro looks to improve, serve as mentor in '17

Castro looks to improve, serve as mentor in '17

NEW YORK -- Starlin Castro said that he experienced some mixed emotions on the evening of Nov. 2, watching on television as Kris Bryant threw across the Progressive Field diamond, the ball landing in Anthony Rizzo's glove to clinch the Cubs' first World Series title since 1908.

After spending the first six seasons of his career on Chicago's North Side, Castro said that it was "awesome" to see the Cubs celebrate an achievement that many once thought would be impossible, especially after enduring the franchise's most recent run of lean years.

"It's pretty good. I feel happy for some of my teammates and the city of Chicago," Castro said. "It's sad, a little bit for me, because I'd been there so many years and [they were] always losing years. But I feel really happy, too, because the last year I was there we made the playoffs."

The emergence of shortstop Addison Russell helped nudge the Cubs into dealing Castro to the Yankees prior to last season, and the 26-year-old Castro seemed to respond to both a change of scenery and a position switch to second base.

Castro's nifty stop at second

Castro and Didi Gregorius formed an athletic double-play combination up the middle for the Yankees, with Castro batting .270/.300/.433 with 29 doubles, 21 home runs and 70 RBIs in 151 games. Castro said that he will set the bar higher for his second season in New York.

"I want to be the kind of player that always tries to learn," Castro said. "I'm always working hard to get better every year and that's the type of team that I want, to be better than last year."

By participating in the inaugural Winter Warm-Up, Castro had the opportunity to spend time with a selection of the team's most promising prospects on Tuesday, visiting a pair of Bronx locations and taking part in a town hall at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square.

In addition to exchanging pleasantries with Clint Frazier, James Kaprielian and Chance Adams, Castro said that he was able to renew acquaintances with Gleyber Torres, with whom he had worked briefly in the Cubs' Spring Training camp.

Castro said that he was impressed both by Torres' swing and his positive attitude, and he will look forward to spending more time together on the back fields of the Tampa, Fla., complex next month.

"I try to help the young guys like [Alfonso] Soriano did for me," Castro said. "Try to say the right thing, work hard every day [and] come here to do one goal -- to help the team to win. I learned that from Soriano and that's the experience that makes me help those guys, too, because they helped me. Those guys might be ready to be here."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.