"If you would've told me that in Spring Training, I would've been really excited about the year Anthony had," said Epstein, the Cubs' president of baseball operations.
"It's really unusual that he accomplished that in the same season where he struggled to hit for average and was really searching a lot at the plate," Epstein said of the first baseman. "Pitchers made the adjustment to him. He tried to make adjustments back. It was a cat-and-mouse game. He was kind of on the losing end of that cat-and-mouse game."
But what Epstein also saw was that Rizzo continued to battle.
"He never gave up, he fought back and I think he'll be better off for this," Epstein said.
Epstein called Castro a "unique hitter" and said the shortstop was "somebody who we want to be himself."
"As an organization, we introduced him to the concept of getting a pitch he can really drive, because in the long run it'll benefit him," Epstein said. "But if that can't be accomplished without him being himself as a hitter, then you have to let time play its course, and I think he'll naturally evolve that way. I think he's in a pretty good place right now. I think he's in a good place now where he's comfortable at the plate."
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.