Cubs plan to start with Castro batting second

Cubs plan to start with Castro batting second

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Starlin Castro has batted second most of his young career, and the Cubs shortstop will stay in that spot this year in a projected regular lineup of left-handed and right-handed bats.

"If everybody lives up to their capabilities, hopefully we don't have to do anything [different]," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Sunday of his projected lineup in which David DeJesus will lead off and be followed by Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Alfonso Soriano, Nate Schierholtz, Welington Castillo, Luis Valbuena and Darwin Barney.

"Right now, we'll start the season with [Castro] second," Sveum said of the shortstop, who turned 23 on Sunday. "I think he's matured so much in a year that he might end up in an RBI spot."

Last season, Castro batted .283 and was inserted fairly evenly between the second, third and fifth spots in the lineup. He was moved around as the Cubs struggled to find a workable combination. Will Castro stay in the No. 2 spot?

"I'll be honest with you, I don't know if it's short term or not," Sveum said. "I'm just waiting for him to develop a little bit more into a more patient hitter, not a guy who feels he has to drive in a run every time somebody's in scoring position and swing out of the strike zone.

"Like I said about maturing, so far his at-bats this Spring Training have been a lot more mature than they have in the past," Sveum said. "We know he's a good hitter and he's going to put the ball in play, and a lot of times he has a magic wand, but his mechanics allow a lot of that stuff to happen. Good hitters have mechanics where their bat stays in the strike zone longer than others so they get a lot of ugly looking hits sometimes, but that's because of the mechanics they have."

Castro was batting .448 (13-for-29) in 11 spring games, drawing three walks. Sveum sees better at-bats and that he's swinging at a pitcher's good pitch.

"You want to see the maturity so when he has bad at-bats, the pitcher won the battle, not that you gave him the battle," Sveum said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.