By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — With a somber and humbling tone, former Cubs infielder Starlin Castro said goodbye to the only organization he’s ever known and the fan base that supported him for six seasons during an exclusive interview on 670 The Score radio station Saturday morning.
“I was really sad when they told me I was traded,” Castro said. “This was the team that gave me my opportunity when I was 16 years old. Yes, I was very sad. Now I think I have an opportunity to go to New York and continue to play for the Yankees who wanted me.”
The book closed on the Castro-Cubs era closed Tuesday, when Chicago traded the 25-year-old Dominican native was traded to the New York Yankees for right-hander Adam Warren. Castro — who signed a seven-year, $60-million contract after 2012 — has around $38 million left on his deal that runs through 2019. A three-time All-Star, Castro lost his shortstop job to Addison Russell in early August after seeing his batting average dip into the .230 range.
After being told by manager Joe Maddon that he was being replaced, Castro felt he was finished as a player.
“When they told me I wasn’t the shortstop, they said I wasn’t the second baseman either,” Castro told 670 The Score. “They said I was not going to play at all. I was hurt and it was very bad for me, but I did not want to be a bad teammate (and complain). Being a good teammate and the team is what it is all about.”
To his credit, Castro worked hard with infield coach Gary Jones and hitting coach John Mallee to regain his skills and reinvent himself. Eventually he won the second base job, hitting .344 from that point on and a MLB-leading .409 in September.
“I was not going to be the bad guy,” Castro said. “I came to the ballpark to work hard on my baseball and conditioning every day. Gary and John, all the coaches helped me a lot. I gave special thanks to Manny Ramirez, who was great. I took every opportunity they gave me after that. That is what happened the last two months. I stayed focused, held my head up and took advantage of each chance I had. I showed everyone the player I am those last two months.”
Castro did just that, helping his team win 97 games and get past the Pirates and Cardinals in the playoffs. Castro has more hits than any middle infielder in baseball since breaking in with six hits in his first big league game on May 7, 2010. His 919 big league hits put him on pace for 3,000.
“I did not think I would be traded,” Castro said. “This is a business. I showed what kind of player and teammate I am. I was surprised, but I leave Chicago with my head up and mind strong. Whatever happens, happens. I want to thank all of the fans and the Chicago Cub organization. The fans always supported me no matter what. The Cub organization is a great organization. They gave me a chance to be a major league player which was a great thing for me and my family.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.