MESA, Ariz. -- Starlin Castro asked if he could play nine innings on Sunday in one of the Cubs' split-squad games. Sure, Mike Quade said.
"We've got a lot of work to do, and the best way to do it is play games," Quade said.
After one week of games, Castro was batting .533. Carlos Pena, on the other hand, was hitting .091.
"He and Rudy [Jaramillo, hitting coach] are working like heck to make some adjustments," Quade said of the first baseman. "I'm sure he's not happy. That's a process, too. I'm happy that they have a really good relationship, and they'll keep working. He's got a ways to go. It's OK. You don't expect the whole club to be rolling on the sixth of March. That almost makes you nervous."
The plan is to let the regulars get 70 to 80 at-bats this spring. Some want more.
"The more I play, the more comfortable I get," Alfonso Soriano said. "If I play more, I'll be more ready."
Soriano also has been in a good groove and was batting .467. When spring began, Jaramillo had some areas he wanted Soriano to work on, approach-wise. Soriano's only home run was to right field, which is a good sign. He's delivered.
"He's worked on what they've talked about and he's getting hits -- you can see it at the plate," Quade said. "Some guys you have to push a little. Sori's not a guy you have to push."