By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) After a turbulent week of trades, losses and awards, it became obvious that the new leadership of the Chicago Cubs will be coming from All-Stars Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro. Rizzo was the center of attention on Thursday, when he almost triggered a bench clearing brawl in Cincinnati. Standing up to the Reds bench and pitcher Matt Latos, Rizzo threw his glove in the dirt and headed toward the Cincinnati dugout before getting stopped along the way.
Cubs manager Rick Renteria agreed with the premise that leadership evolves through situations such as Thursdays. The Cubs had dropped six straight games since trading starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. At the same time, Rizzo was waiting to hear if he would be the winner of the All-Star Game final voting to determine the
“I thought Anthony standing up in that moment yesterday during the ballgame shows he has the heart to be a leader,” Renteria said. “I believe everybody gravitated to it. (The players) are growing up.”
Rizzo and Castro must assume the leadership role that was left behind by the charismatic Samardzija, who had the longest tenure on the team.
“I don’t think we will look back at that (situation in Cincinnati),” Rizzo said. “That is not the type of players we are. We just want to get better, keep our heads down and not think about when we were not good. We want to get the right pieces and keep getting better.”
A three-time All-Star in his fourth full season, Castro has lofty goals of being the best shortstop in baseball. Like his manager, Castro believes Rizzo showed leadership qualities with his tough stance and excellent play this season.
“I tip my hat to him,” Castro said. “It was a really good moment (making the All-Star team). It was awesome — we threw water and everything on him, a great moment.”
Castro is now the longest-tenured player on the team along with reliever James Russell. Castro has the longest continuous time on the major league roster, dating to May 7, 2010, and he’s keeping his eye on the future.
“Maybe the team will add some young players after the All-Star break,” Castro said. “We had a tough series and some tough trades to deal with. I think we will come back and be better.”
Castro and Rizzo both have rebounded after having difficult seasons in 2013. Renteria and his staff have set a nice atmosphere around the players, but as former manager Dale Sveum put it, ” They were young players with great talent who had to go through the wars like anyone else — no one thought they wouldn’t get better.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.