By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) After hitting two home runs in Tuesday’s loss to the Pirates, Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro was asked more than once if hitting in the six-hole was his destiny. The 24-year-old Castro went through a tough 2013 season, batting in just about every spot, including eighth, before upper management stepped in.
Castro who was hurt for three weeks in spring training, appears to have his legs under him now, going 9-for-20 after an 0-for-9 start to the season.
“I want to hit with men in scoring position,” Castro said after going 3-for-4 on Tuesday. “I don’t care what spot (manager Rick Renteria) puts me in. He wants to put me in a good spot. He trusts me and wants me to bring in more RBIs.”
Renteria moved Castro to the six-hole over the weekend. He told Castro that would be the best spot for him to drive in runs against right-handed pitching. Castro has responded with a five-game hitting streak.
“We have had men in scoring position like he told me,” Castro said. “He put me there for a good reason.”
All that said, Renteria did hint that with a left-handed starter going for Pittsburgh today, Castro may hit in the second spot.
Castro’s two-homer game was marred by another loss, as Renteria received his first ejection. Renteria had been jawing with home plate umpire Jeff Nelson about his strike zone calls all evening. Nelson gave the manager the thumb in the ninth inning.
“That is between me and Jeff,” Renteria said, declining to get into details.
Renteria got the thumbs-up from his players for standing up for them.
“He is a fiery guy,” said starter Edwin Jackson, who allowed four first-inning runs. “He’s going to stand up for his team. He is going to speak what he believes and fight for the guys in the clubhouse.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.