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Cubs’ Castro working on focus

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 11:26 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — MESA, Ariz. — Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has led the National League in errors in back-to-back seasons and remains stigmatized by the 2011 incident in which then-ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine criticized him for having his back to the plate during a pitch.

But Castro, entering his fourth season, believes he can win a Gold Glove Award in 2013 and vowed to keep his focus “perfect” for an entire season.

“I want to be like (Darwin) Barney and win a Gold Glove,” Castro said Tuesday at Fitch Park. “It’s going to be fun winning Gold Gloves at shortstop, second base and first base because (Anthony) Rizzo is pretty good too. It’s good motivation for me. I know I can be like those guys and play very good defense.”

Stats aren’t the only thing that factors into a Gold Glove. The player must have a good defensive reputation as well. It could take Castro some time to repair the damage from the Valentine episode and things such as forgetting the number of outs during a game last year in San Francisco.

“It’s one thing I challenged him to do: ‘Your next step now is to win a Gold Glove,’ “ manager Dale Sveum said. “Obviously that takes a lot of focus and hard work and being focused for 150 pitches a game over 162 games. He’s got the ability to do it. The rest is up to him.”

Sveum noted that Castro’s concentration lapses dissipated as the season went on, and he feels Castro is ready to take his defensive game up a couple of notches. Castro said he can be a “(bigger) superstar” than he is now.

“I know that I can be what I’m supposed to be in the future,” he said. “I know I can be very good because I’ve never been lazy and work hard.”

Garza watch: An MRI on Matt Garza revealed a mild strain around the intersection of his left lat and oblique. Garza will rest for a week and miss at least one Cactus League start, but the Cubs aren’t counting him out to be ready for opening week.

“We’re optimistic,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “It was certainly a positive read from our standpoint.”

Extra innings: Sveum said he has eliminated Garza as the suspected mastermind of a practical joke in which players donned hunting vests to mock Sveum’s hunting incident with Robin Yount. Sveum said Garza might have bought the vests, but he’s “99.9 percent sure” of whose idea it was. Most accusatory fingers were pointed at Jeff Samardzija. ... Rizzo will report to Team Italy a few days before its World Baseball Classic opener March 7. ... Rain is forecast for Wednesday, which could wipe out most of the outdoor workouts on the final day the Cubs will spend at Fitch Park. They work out at HoHoKam Stadium the rest of the spring and will be in a new facility in 2014. Will Sveum miss Fitch? “I’ll probably tear up,” he said.

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