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Article updated: 8/22/2011 9:27 PM

Quade 'rests apologetic Cubs shortstop Castro

Bev Horne/bhorne@dailyherald.com Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro wasn’t in the starting lineup Monday night after showing a lack of concentration on the field the previous night.

Bev Horne/bhorne@dailyherald.com Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro wasn't in the starting lineup Monday night after showing a lack of concentration on the field the previous night.

 
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We've been down this road before, and we'll likely go down it again.

Call it the very public education of Starlin Castro.

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The Cubs' 21-year-old shortstop was caught in the act by ESPN's ubiquitous cameras, and his actions were dissected seven ways to Sunday Night Baseball by game analyst and former major-league manager Bobby Valentine.

Castro was caught not looking toward the plate as pitcher James Russell was delivering the ball to home plate. The cameras even caught Castro, egad, eating and spitting sunflower seeds.

The sunflower seeds didn't bother Cubs manager Mike Quade, who gave Castro a "mental day off" at the start of Monday night's game at Wrigley Field against the Atlanta Braves. After all, it's not baseball without a little spittin' and scratchin'.

But the lack of concentratin' is what got to Quade, who did not see Castro's transgressions live. He watched them later on tape -- with the sound muted so as not to hear Valentine -- and then addressed them with the player.

"I was really disappointed, surprised, very surprised at him," Quade said. "It is something that we have been after him from Day One focus wise. It is something, to be honest with you, with his talent, the toughest challenge for him.

"Not acceptable, not good. He feels terrible."

Castro met with reporters on the field after batting practice.

"I want to say I'm sorry to my teammates and it will never happen again," he said. "I'm real embarrassed. There's no excuse for that. That can't happen in a game. That will never happen again."

Quade has taken Castro to task before for various lapses in concentration. The benchings and disciplinary actions seem to bother many fans, who ask why Quade doesn't treat veterans in the same manner when they loaf on a ball in the field or admire a batted ball.

Part of it is the old baseball rule that managers treat veteran players differently from how they treat "the kids."

And part of it, to hear Quade tell it, is because Castro has such enormous talent and potential that he wants him to develop good habits early. For all his rough edges, Castro entered Monday leading the National League in hits (164) while batting .308.

"Whenever you deal with these things, whether you've got his kind of talent or a lesser talent, you deal with them," Quade said. "You identify each one of your players and try to push them to what they need to do.

"Everybody's got different needs and different things they need to get better on. If it was John Doe who had just come up and was our 25th player and I noticed that, it would be addressed the same way. You guys wouldn't be asking me about it as much for obvious reasons."

As for Valentine, he castigated Castro and the Cubs for several minutes during the telecast.

"He needs to learn the game and play it properly," Valentine said. "If those things are allowed to exist, then a cancer will form within the team … Infielders can't be walking around with their head down."

Quade said he had not heard Valetine's remarks, nor did it sound like he'd be listening any time soon.

"I don't listen to Bobby very much," he said. "I looked at everything with the mute on. I don't want any outside influences. I want to see exactly what I see and make my own decisions. In particular, when I saw Russ' pitch, and he (Castro) wasn't on board yet, that was the thing that got me more than anything.

"There's a lot of experts out there. Everybody's got stuff figured out. I know how much time we've spent with the kid. I know how much we've addressed these things. I also know it doesn't always happen overnight."

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