The Cubs placed Starlin Castro on the 15-day DL Tuesday and the All-Star shortstop will miss at least two weeks, and maybe as much as a month, after he injured his ankle while lunging to beat out an infield hit.
With the Cubs trailing 3-1 in the 9th inning, Castro made contact on an excuse-me check swing and hustled out of the box to beat the throw. In doing so, however, he launched himself forward with an exaggerated final stride, landing awkwardly on the back side of the bag.
Now, if you hadn't read the headline, that opener might have freaked you out a little bit. But the best horror stories are those with at least a kernel of verisimilitude at their core, something that makes you wonder, "what if..." Such is the case with Castro and his beat-it-out-at-all-costs recklessness.
My CI colleague Tommy Cook knows what I'm talking about:
ftr I've always hated how castro runs into the bag
— Tommy Cook (@TommyECook) August 12, 2014
@BleacherNation my dad and I have lengthy discussions about this seemingly every game. I can't believe he hasnt been seriously hurt yet
— Tommy Cook (@TommyECook) August 12, 2014
Like the headfirst slide into first, which is both dangerous and stupid (since the friction of the slide itself slows you down and you're leaving your hands and head more vulnerable), Castro's lunges serve no discernable purpose. And while the tack might have worked last night, there was fear in its fallout.
I know I'm not alone in recounting my thoughts on the play in real-time: "Safeouchohmanishealright." Sorry for the stream-of-consciousness jag there, but it was all kind of one compressed blurb of synaptic effusion. Okay, big deal, it was just one play in one game.
Boy, wouldn't it be great it that was true. But it's not. Castro's been doing this since he got into the league, scaring us with his leaping attempts to beat out throws, then walking around gingerly for a while and making us all wonder whether he'll be able to continue.
Thus far, he's always been able to shake it off and move forward with no serious ill effects. No problem, par for the course for a 24-year-old. Trouble is, he's not going to be 24 forever and this little game of Russian Roulette is going to bite him in the ass sooner or later.
I wasn't a fan of how the Cubs tried to change Castro's plate approach; I felt that it took away what made him a very good hitter. But I would love for them to tinker with his base approach, to break him of a habit that could eventually break him.
But he's hustling, Evan. We Cubs fans love hustle. Yes, yes we do. I had a bit to say on that topic as it relates to Jorge Soler, but we might as well revisit it here. Both Castro and the young Cuban (see what I did there) have been accused of loafing in the past and both have been benched for those lapses.
At the same time, Soler has dealt with injury issues that have forced the Cubs to reign him in a little bit, to teach him to be more judicious with his approach to the game. Perhaps it's time they start doing the same with Castro to a degree. I don't know about you, but I consider a career more important than a single out in a meaningless game in August.
Different sport, different person, but consider the career of Bob Sanders, former Indianapolis Colts safety. Sanders was a veritable cannonball of a man, both in size and impact, making up for in damage what he lacked in stature. He made two Pro Bowls (2005, '07) and two All-Pro Teams ('05, '07), won the AP DPOY ('07), and captured a Super Bowl ring as a result.
But Bob Sanders was a demolition derby car, careening about with its tach pegged in the red at all times. As such, he was unable to stay healthy and never realized his full potential. Castro has the potential to be Bob Sanders, but I'd prefer he emulate the hardware collector and not the IR refugee.
Perhaps I'm wasting my time worrying about something that hasn't, and, admittedly, might never happen. But I'm appealing to the Cubs and Starlin Castro to make some corrections before I have to remove the first four words of this headline.
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