Castro won't play until Saturday at earliest

MESA, Ariz. -- If this was the regular season, Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro would be in the lineup, manager Dale Sveum said Monday. But Castro, who has not played since last Wednesday because of a tight left hamstring, now is not expected to get into a Cactus League game until the weekend at the earliest.

Sveum said the Cubs want to take a cautious approach with the shortstop.

"He's fine," Sveum said. "He did everything [Sunday] and there's nothing going on. He took full [batting practice]. Today, he'll be out here on the field taking a round of [batting practice], same as yesterday. We can't even simulate any kind of discomfort or feeling in the hamstring."

So, why give Castro another week?

"Because we have plenty of time," Sveum said. "A week from now, you're talking the 10th or 11th [of March], and we have 20-plus games after that. That's plenty of time for him to get in Opening Day shape."

Castro, who injured himself as he ran to first base, said Sunday that he wanted to be careful and not aggravate the hamstring.

"If it was the regular season, he'd probably be playing," Sveum said.

The Cubs are already thin in the infield, with injuries to third basemen Ian Stewart and Josh Vitters, both of whom have been sidelined since Feb. 22 with strained left quads.