By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — This can’t be an easy time in the professional life of Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, the 25-year-old three-time All-Star who was told by manager Joe Maddon on Friday that he was no longer considered the everyday shortstop.READ MORE: Thieves Steal Your Identity To Get Rental Cars, And You Get Stuck With The Bills
Those were humbling words for a player who has been the man at that position ever since breaking in with four hits in his first big league game May 7, 2010.
Castro has more hits at shortstop than anyone in baseball since 2010. The Dominican native was shocked but understanding of the Maddon decision to start rookie Addison Russell ahead of him.
“He didn’t ask me anything,” Castro said Saturday. “He told me that for at least a couple of days, I wouldn’t be starting. He said he would use me off the bench. I will be ready off of the bench, and when I get my opportunity, I will try to get the job done.”
The friendly infielder has gone through a season-long offensive slump. His numbers have sunk down to a .236 batting average, with a .575 OPS – the lowest of any starter on the club. On defense, his 18 errors also hurt his case.
“This is the first time this ever happened to me,” Castro said about the demotion. “I never will put my head down. I know the talent I have and the player I am. I will just keep working and do my routine.”
The regression in the batter’s box is hard to figure out. Castro had his worst season in 2013, hitting a career-low .245. Last year, he had a hitting resurgence. Castro batted .291 in the first five months of the season before an ankle injury forced him to sit out most of September. Coming into 2015, Castro was a .278 lifetime hitter.
“I have been sometimes good, sometimes bad,” Castro said. “The most important thing is to keep your confidence. If you have your confidence, good things can happen.”
Good things will hopefully be close down the road for Castro, who has never played another position in professional baseball. His future with the Cubs might appear a bit cloudy, and the proud player admitted as much.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Another Mild Day
“Yeah. Yeah, I have been here a long time,” Castro said. “This is the first time anything like this ever happened. I will just try to stay positive and don’t think about this.”
Castro did say a meeting of the minds might be necessary if he is asked to move positions.
“If I have to change, we will talk. Whatever they want to do, they know what they are doing,” Castro said. “They know what’s better for me. They know why they are better for me.”
Maddon said a change of position might be a part of what the coaching staff wants for Castro, but not yet.
“We just want him to stay where he is at right now,” Maddon said when asked about Castro learning a new position “We will be talking about the different items we want (him) to attack work-wise. We haven’t had that conversation with him yet.”
Castro said he’s up for this new challenge of helping off of the bench.
“I felt a little frustrated,” he said about getting the news from Maddon. “He told me that he didn’t know when I would play. At the beginning, I took it really personal. After that, I thought ‘OK, I can go help off of the bench.’ Last night, I thought about it. Now I think whatever I can do for the team to win, I will.”
Castro has $37.5 million coming after 2015 on his original seven-year, $60-million deal, signed in 2012. Castro doesn’t have a no-trade clause in his contract.MORE NEWS: 6-Year-Old Girl Shot On West Englewood Porch, Suffers Graze Wounds
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.