NEW YORK -- On Friday, Starlin Castro did not start for the Cubs for the first time this season after being in the lineup for 82 straight games. He was the only player in the National League to have started in all of his team's games, and got some good-natured razzing from his teammates about being "benched."
"He told me day off," Castro said Friday of the message he got from Cubs manager Dale Sveum. "I don't think I need it, but if he wants to give it to me, I'll take it. I'll be ready for tomorrow or later today."
It wasn't a total break. Castro entered the game on a double-switch in the seventh inning and went 1-for-2 at the plate. Sveum had Castro near him in the dugout for a good portion of the game.
"I wanted to give him a day off before the [All-Star] break, one way or another," Sveum said before the game. "I just want him to kick back one day and just observe before the break, because he's not going to get much of a break. I want him to kick back and talk to him about scenarios on the bench."
Castro is batting .289, and he is 3-for-18 on the road trip. He began the year with a .300 average in his first two seasons in the big leagues.
"I feel good at home plate," Castro said. "I don't feel lost at home plate. I feel good. I feel like I've felt my last two years. [My batting average] won't stay there for a long time for sure. I know that."
Castro will be going to the All-Star Game for the second year as a reserve on the National League team, and he's taking his parents, two brothers and two sisters.
"I feel a little more comfortable there because it's my second one," he said. "Next year, I want to be a starter, that's what I want."
He has learned from last year, too. Castro missed the media day festivities because of flight snafus last year.
"I won't miss the flight like I did last year," he said.
In fact, Castro may get an invitation to travel with the Mets' All-Stars -- David Wright and R.A. Dickey -- on a private plane.