A major-league manager has to walk a lot of fine lines.
Cubs skipper Dale Sveum looks to be walking the Starlin Castro line just, well, fine.
Sveum had a sit-down with the young shortstop Saturday, one day after Castro took off on a stolen base attempt with the Cubs down 5 runs and wound up getting decoyed on a basehit and thrown out at third base because he lost track of the ball.
His manager was none too pleased, with Castro or the whole team after Friday's sloppy effort, and he vented to the media after the game.
On Saturday, it was time to build things back up.
"I talked to him for quite awhile today, nothing that I really want to share with anybody," Sveum said before the Cubs lost 4-2 to the Cincinnati Reds. "That's kind of a behind-closed-doors meeting. It went well. He was completely -- I don't know if 'remorseful' is the right word -- but he knew he made a big mistake.
"In a certain part of a game, 5 runs down, you got to be a little more prepared for that situation and do a better job."
The fine line Sveum has to walk is the one between understanding Castro is still only 22 but that he also is in his third major-league season.
"There is that fine line, but even he admits that (being) young … there's no excuse for anything that went on yesterday," Sveum said. "There's no excuse for that."
My own emails and responses to tweets have been pretty evenly split between those who say Sveum should have benched Castro, at least for Saturday, and those who said Sveum should have left Castro alone and not singled him out.
"I don't treat him any different than anybody else," the manager said. "He just happens to be a big focal point of the team because he's our shortstop, and the shortstop is going to be here a long time.
"The guy's made leaps and bounds defensively and has done a good job as far as concentration for most of the time.
"Myself included as well as the media blows him up as much as anybody else. Some other people have made some pretty bad mistakes, too, but it doesn't get blown up as much, either."
Castro has been criticized for having "mental lapses" during games. Former manager Mike Quade sat Castro more than once for that reason. Sveum said Friday he'd "think about" sitting Castro, but he played him, just as he has done in the past when Castro would slip back into some bad habits.
Sveum insisted Saturday that those lapses have been fewer and far between.
"I don't see any of those consistent, consistent mental lapses anymore," he said. "That just goes to show you he's in the right place, position wise. Knock on wood, the throwing errors are pretty much negated right now.
"He's put a few things in his toolbox that have really helped him out defensively and his throwing. So he's come a long way that way. He's still an elite shortstop in the big leagues. Some people might have less errors, but a lot of people haven't been able to do the things he can do at shortstop, either."
As for Castro, he said he appreciated the time Sveum took with him and the confidence he showed by putting him back on the field the next day.
"He talked to me about the play yesterday," Castro said. "In that kind of situation, down like 5 runs, if you're going to steal, you have to be 100 percent that you're safe and that you're going to see the ball.
"He gave me confidence, putting me out there today."