Like all Cubs fans, shortstop Starlin Castro wants to put a miserable 2012… (Jos? M. Osorio/ Chicago…)
Like most Cubs fans, Starlin Castro is eager to put last year behind him.
"It's a new season," the face of the franchise said when asked about 2013. "I'm excited. I feel pretty good."
After the way 2012 ended, it would be hard to fault Castro for wanting to get away for a while.
The team had just lost 100 games for the first time in nearly 50 years and he had just signed a seven-year, $60 million contract months earlier.
And while that would be enough to have most guys packing their bags for a relaxing vacation the moment the season ended, Castro took a different approach.
"No, I worked myself," he told RedEye. "I work on everything. I work my defense, I work my hitting, I work everything. I want to be part of the team and win a lot more games this season."
Truth be told, Castro knows last season didn't live up to fans' expectations. The soft-spoken shortstop said it didn't live up to his, either.
"I know that last season was kind of a little tough because I didn't hit .300," he said. "Everybody wants me to hit .300."
That didn't stop Cubs fans from giving him a reaction befitting a Beatle at the Cubs Convention last month. Throngs of die-hards surrounded Castro's autograph session and followed him wherever he went.
"The people love me, the people want me in this city," he said.
Unlike some of his teammates, Castro won't play in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. While the Cubs continue spring training in Arizona, he's working on improving on the career highs he set in 2012, in home runs (14), RBIs (78) and stolen bases (25).
While his teammate Alfonso Soriano hasn't been feeling much love from Cubs fans lately, he's got Castro's undying affection. No doubt he'd be disappointed if Soriano were traded to the N.Y. Yankees, which is the latest rumor floating around Major League Baseball.
"Thank God that he's still here," he said.
Soriano was nearly traded to San Francisco last summer, ultimately exercising his rights to reject the deal and remain a Cub despite the fact the team was mired in a miserable season. The Giants went on to win the World Series.
Castro credits the veteran outfielder for helping him make strides on and off the field.
"It's an unbelievable impact," Castro said. "It's not only the part about the plays, it's the part about the personality too. He's one of the great guys on the team."
Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.
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