SAN DIEGO -- Starlin Castro finished his first two seasons in the big leagues with a .300 batting average. But the Cubs shortstop is struggling -- he is currently hitting a career-low .272.
"I want to finish strong," Castro said. "Every [season], I finish strong. Every time, I put it in my mind that the last month, if you don't finish strong, my family doesn't eat. I put that in my mind. I need my family to eat these two months, like they eat in the first four months. I put that in my mind all the time. I'll do it for sure."
Castro has had a dropoff since Rudy Jaramillo was dismissed as the Cubs hitting coach on June 12. In 60 games with Jaramillo, Castro hit .308, and in the 48 games since, he's hitting .226. But Castro made it clear that new Cubs hitting coach James Rowson is not to blame.
"That guy is good -- he's unbelievable," Castro said of Rowson, promoted from his post as the Cubs Minor League coordinator. "He talks to you. I like him. He's kind of like Rudy -- it's almost the same guy. It's not because of him."
What Cubs manager Dale Sveum sees is the need to simplify things.
"There's so many moving parts that are going on that don't need to go on," Sveum said of Castro's swing. "There's not a good base on a consistent basis. ... There's so much movement going on, it's going to be hard to be consistent. He has to narrow things down to be able to use his hand-eye coordination."
Sveum said Castro, who led the National League in hits last season, doesn't need to alter too much, but may become a winter project.
"It's not like a big change -- it's making him understand he doesn't need all this extra movement going on to succeed," Sveum said.