CHICAGO -- Starlin Castro did not start Wednesday as manager Dale Sveum decided to give him a breather. It's been a season in which the shortstop has needed a few breaks.
"It's been tough for me this year, because I've never had this [kind of] moment," said Castro, who began this season with a .297 career average but has hit .247 in 2013. "It's always, 'Be good, be good, good, good.' You have these kind of numbers [this year], and you're like, 'What am I doing? What happened?' It's baseball. I'm learning from this. When I get in a slump, I can get out quicker, because I know what happens."
Castro seemed to be back on track in July, batting .292 after hitting .167 in June. But he's 11-for-46 (.239) in his 12 August games, with two doubles, no home runs and one RBI.
The problem? Castro has struggled to hit fastballs.
"You've got to be able to hit the fastball, and if you can't hit the fastball, you'll struggle in this league," Sveum said. "The bottom line is laying off the breaking ball.
"You see guys who aren't having good years, and they're missing the fastball and fouling it off and getting in counts they shouldn't be, and it's because they're missing the fastball."
How can Castro correct it?
"You fix it by understanding hitting and understand the two things connected to the bat are your hands, and you have to use your hands to hit with," Sveum said. "Good fastball hitters use their hands."
Castro has too many moving parts in his swing, and Cubs hitting coach James Rowson has tried to get the shortstop to quiet things down and eliminate some of the movement.
"It's frustrating for him," Sveum said. "The bottom line is obviously performance and being able to get in the box and use your hands there. You can take all the batting practice you want, but you have to be able to do it in the batter's box."
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.