Chicago Cubs breathing new baseball life into Castellanos

Outfielder Nicholas Castellanos has a new spring in his step, and no wonder. He was traded this past week from the last place Detroit Tigers to the Chicago Cubs, who are in the thick of a playoff race.

Castellanos made his first start in left field Saturday for the Cubs, going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored in a 4-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field.

"It's definitely like an extra boost of energy, that's for sure," he said. "We weren't exactly having the best year over there. Just as a competitor, you take pride on winning. I don't think I love winning; I hate losing. So when our record was whatever it was, it can become a drag. And you've really got to fake it.

"So to come over here where you're in the middle of it and you have fans behind you and you have a clubhouse like this, facilities like this, 'faking it' is very easy.

"Every day is Opening Day. That's the way I go about it. Just be the best version of yourself every day even on days when that's hard."

The 27-year-old Castellanos is an upbeat, high-energy guy who said he learned from Miguel Cabrera in Detroit.

"What I took away from him was how to be a kid playing baseball," he said. "A kid in backyard Wiffle ball never goes into a slump because he's having too much fun with that at-bat to worry about what's happened. That's Miggy. That's what I take from him."

An outfielder by trade, Castellanos took groundballs at third base and shortstop before Saturday's game. He drew praise from manager Joe Maddon.

"He's reminding us what hunger looks like," Maddon said. "This guy is happy to be here, to play in this ballpark. He wants to get to the postseason badly, and I love what he's doing. Everything about him, his work, indicates, 'Let's go. I want to play in October.' And I love it."

Cubs designate Brach:

The Cubs activated left-hander Cole Hamels to start Saturday. To make room on the roster, they designated reliever Brad Brach for assignment.

It has been a rough year for Brach, who was 4-3 with a 6.13 ERA and a WHIP of 1.77 in 42 relief appearances. Joe Maddon said he talked with Brach.

"I meant this sincerely," Maddon said. "Every time he went out there, I expected a good result. He was throwing the ball well all year. He was running into some bad luck. Velocity was good.

"It's really hard to understand why he had such a hard time. Saying that, I want him to get another opportunity. Great guy. Great family guy. This is a tough one. He's still young enough. He's going to get another job."

No love for the glove:

Reliever Brandon Kintzler was forced to change gloves in Friday's game. Apparently, the gray glove he was wearing is against Major League Baseball regulations.

Kintzler seemed amused by the whole thing Saturday morning.

"I guess you can't use gray," he said. "I've used gray for four years. "He (plate umpire John Tumpane) just said, 'You can't use gray.' (I said), 'Well, you've done my games all year. I promise you I've been using it for four years.'

"Rawlings said they got the color approved by Major League Baseball. So I don't understand. I want to know why they're sending me illegal gloves."

Kintzler was laughing when he said that last sentence.

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